Melbourne School of Health Sciences Collected Works - Theses

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    Active video game technologies for balance rehabilitation after stroke
    Bower, Kelly Jean ( 2016)
    Standing balance deficits are frequent and disabling following stroke; however, optimal assessment and treatment for balance problems remains unclear. The past decade has seen the increasing emergence and clinical uptake of active video game technologies. The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the utility of active video games, in particular the Nintendo Wii, for balance rehabilitation following stroke. A comprehensive, narrative literature review of balance assessment and treatment following stroke was completed. Force platform technologies were found to provide a higher level of objective information on balance performance than clinical tests, but were inaccessible for most clinical settings. The Wii Balance Board (WBB) presented a valid and potentially feasible alternative; however, its clinimetric properties had not been investigated in a post-stroke sample. Active video games, such as the Wii Fit, demonstrated equivalence or superiority in efficacy to more traditional balance training approaches in emerging recent studies, but trials were generally small. Importantly, they provided little insights into feasibility, nor guidance in clinical implementation. A cross-sectional study was conducted to investigate the reliability, validity and feasibility of WBB-based tests of balance in an outpatient stroke setting. Thirty participants were tested on two occasions, one week apart. Five WBB-based standing balance tests demonstrated excellent test-retest reliability (ICC2,k = 0.82 to 0.98) and were poorly to moderately associated (r = 0.04 to 0.61) with performance in four clinical tests of balance and mobility. Minimal detectable change scores, floor and ceiling effects were investigated, to further inform the utility of the WBB variables. These tests were deemed feasible in terms of the time to complete and ease of use. A pilot randomised controlled trial was undertaken to investigate the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a Wii Fit balance training program in an inpatient setting. Thirty participants (time since stroke, mean (SD) = 25 (18) days), randomised to Wii Fit balance or Wii Sports upper limb training, completed three Wii-based sessions per week over two or four weeks in addition to standard therapy. Feasibility of the Wii training was considered satisfactory based on adherence, acceptability and safety. Greater improvements in balance (i.e., the Step Test and WBB variables) were demonstrated by the Wii Fit balance group. Finally, a comprehensive, theory-based decision-making framework was developed for implementing active video game game-based balance training following stroke. It provides a resource to guide training decisions considering different aspects of the individual, task and environment, underpinned by motor learning theory. This framework may support future clinical and research applications of these technologies. This thesis found the WBB to be a reliable and potentially feasible force platform alternative for low-cost research and clinical use. Wii Fit training was found to be acceptable and safe in an inpatient stroke rehabilitation setting, and the efficacy results can inform the design of future trials. A decision-making framework for active video game implementation is proposed as a potentially valuable clinical resource to guide practice and future research. This thesis provides a substantial contribution to the knowledge in this field and may contribute to improved quality of stroke care in the future.