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Allen MY Cheong, Hiu-Yan Lam, Roger Li, Sue Leat, William Tsang; Fast-paced videogame training improves balance under dynamic visual conditions in older adults. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(9):5965.
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This study aimed to investigate the impact of training with action video games on balance function in older adults using a randomized controlled trial design.
One hundred forty-six healthy community-dwelling adults aged over 60 were recruited. All participants had visual acuity of 0.2 logMAR or better and no prior video game experience. They were randomly assigned into one of three groups: (1) control (CG), (2) slow-paced game training (SPG), and (3) fast-paced game training (FPG). Participants in the SPG and FPG received 20 hours of cartoon-like action video game training (Nintendo-Wii) on ping-pong and chicken riot games respectively, while participants in the CG received 20 hours of leisure activities. All participants were seated during training in order to minimize physical training. Balance function was measured in terms of postural sway with bipedal stance on a force platform. Participants were required to stand on the firm and foam surface while fixating at a stationary cross, a randomly located cross (saccadic eye movement) or a smoothly moving cross (pursuit eye movement). Total body sway path length was measured before training (Pre-test), immediately after training (Post-1), and 2 months after cessation of training (Post-2).
There was a significant main effect of decreased body sway at Post-1 and Post-2 when compared with Pre-test (Generalized estimation equations, (χ2>12.1, df=2, p<0.001). A significant time-group interaction effect was found in the total sway path, where the reduction in total sway was significantly greater in the FPG than SPG and CG (χ2=27.5, df= 4, p<0.001). There was also a significant interaction of time-task. Among the three visual tasks, improvement in balance function in the FPG was found when tracking a smoothly moving target (χ2=19.1, df=4, p=0.001) or following a randomly located target (χ2=22.9, df=4, p<0.001), but not when fixating on a stationary target (p=0.12).
Our results demonstrate a significant improvement in balance after receiving 20 hours of fast-paced action video game training, in particular when they performed challenging visual tasks, which required pursuit or saccadic eye movements, during balance. One plausible explanation for the improvement in balance may be enhanced oculomotor characteristics and visual attention through action video-game training, but further study is needed to confirm this.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.
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