Home-based exergaming: an effective fall preventive measure for the elderly

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Smith, ST, Delbaere, K & Lord, SR 2012, 'Home-based exergaming: an effective fall preventive measure for the elderly', Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, vol. 20, suppl. 1, pp. S121-S122.

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With the expected increase in the number of people living to an older age, fall-related injury threatens to place significant demands on our public health care system. Fall-related injuries are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation in old age and with at least one third of community dwelling adults aged 65 and over fall once or more per year, the health burden within the community associated with falls is enormous. Over the past few decades, there has been a wealth of published scientific evidence for the physical, cognitive and social health-related benefits of increased exercise, especially in older adults. In particular, improvements in strength, balance, coordination and aerobic capacity leading to reduced levels of disability and better mobility function, as well as reduced fall risk in older populations, have been shown following exercise interventions. Despite the clear evidence base demonstrating the health-related benefits of PA, uptake and adherence to PA programs is often disappointing. Barriers to adherence may include lack of interest in the program, low outcomes expectation, the weather or even a fear of falling during exercise. Yardley and colleagues [1] report that home-based exercise has the widest appeal to older adults, and is also most attractive to those more socially deprived people who have the greatest need for undertaking falls prevention measures. One method by which compliance with exercise programs could be improved involves the use of fun and engaging videogames. Interactive videogames that combine player movement, engaging recreation, immediate performance feedback and social connectivity via competition, have been shown to promote motivation for, and increase adherence to, physical exercise amongst children and young adults. In older adults, videogames have also been shown to improve cognitive abilities, to be a feasible alternative to more traditional aerobic exercise modalities for middle-aged and older adults [2] and can be used to train stepping ability in older adults to reduce the risk of falls [3]. S122 World Congress Abstracts We discuss the results of pilot data showing that exergames are an acceptable technology to older adults for home-based exercise and that a relatively short intervention period using Dance Dance Revolution significantly reduces some measures of fall risk.

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