Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Learning and retention in patients with Parkinsons Disease playing exergames Wii Fit

Can patients with early-stage Parkinson's Disease improve scores on a functional reach test before and after exergame intervention training? Mendes and colleagues (2012) were interested in answering this question using Wii Fit as the intervention tool. I haven't see the entire paper yet but from the abstract it looks like some of the results are mixed. It appears that some of the cognitive demands of the game (attention, response inhibition, working memory) interfered and contributed to learning deficits; however, exergame trained patients were able to transfer exergame-related motor skills to a similar untrained task.
sciseekclaimtoken-5088df88b4785 Mendes, F., Pompeu, J., Lobo, A., da Silva, K., Oliveira, T., Zomignani, A., & Piemonte, M. (2012). Motor learning, retention and transfer after virtual-reality-based training in Parkinson's disease – effect of motor and cognitive demands of games: a longitudinal, controlled clinical study Physiotherapy, 98 (3), 217-223 DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2012.06.001

Mendes, F.A.D.S., Pompeu, J.E., Lobo, A.M., da Silva, K.G., Oliveira, T.D.P., Zomignani, A.P. & Piemonte, M.E.P. (2012). Motor learning, retention and transfer after virtual-reality-based training in Parkinson's disease – effect of motor and cognitive demands of games: a longitudinal, controlled clinical study, Physiotherapy, 98 (3) 223. DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2012.06.001
Objectives:
To evaluate the learning, retention and transfer of performance improvements after Nintendo Wii Fit™ training in patients with Parkinson's disease and healthy elderly people.

Design:
Longitudinal, controlled clinical study.
Participants:
Sixteen patients with early-stage Parkinson's disease and 11 healthy elderly people.
Interventions:
Warm-up exercises and Wii Fit training that involved training motor (shifts centre of gravity and step alternation) and cognitive skills. A follow-up evaluative Wii Fit session was held 60 days after the end of training. Participants performed a functional reach test before and after training as a measure of learning transfer.
Main outcome measuresLearning and retention were determined based on the scores of 10 Wii Fit games over eight sessions. Transfer of learning was assessed after training using the functional reach test.
Results:
Patients with Parkinson's disease showed no deficit in learning or retention on seven of the 10 games, despite showing poorer performance on five games compared with the healthy elderly group. Patients with Parkinson's disease showed marked learning deficits on three other games, independent of poorer initial performance. This deficit appears to be associated with cognitive demands of the games which require decision-making, response inhibition, divided attention and working memory. Finally, patients with Parkinson's disease were able to transfer motor ability trained on the games to a similar untrained task.

Conclusions:
The ability of patients with Parkinson's disease to learn, retain and transfer performance improvements after training on the Nintendo Wii Fit depends largely on the demands, particularly cognitive demands, of the games involved, reiterating the importance of game selection for rehabilitation purposes.

Keywords
Parkinson's disease; Motor learning; Virtual reality; Executive function; Rehabilitation; Transfer

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