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Beneficial or a Scam? Essay

Our article, “Wii-habilitation ‘could prevent elderly from falls” is by Anouk Lorie who is a journalist and freelance writer for CNN London. Lorie, a law school graduate, writes features on topics from art, health and current affairs to movies and architecture. Though she isn’t a health specialist, she is certainly qualified to write this article in which Researchers study whether Wii Fit can improve older people’s balance. The article is based on a four month study on people over 70 to observe any changes in balance after regular use of the Wii Fit.

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The study was done by The University of Aberdeen, Scotland and the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), and Dr Marie Fraser, a specialist registrar at Woodend Hospital in Scotland, UK, is carrying out the research. The study is being funded by the British Geriatrics Society (BGS). More specifically, the study is calling for people aged over 70 who have fallen in the last year to attend twice-weekly sessions at Woodend Hospital over 12 weeks.

After an initial assessment by a physiotherapist, volunteers will try aerobics, yoga and balance games to see whether the console can help improve their balance. Lorie does not take a definitive yes or no stance on whether the Wii Fit will work, since the study is currently on-going. However, she does concentrate on the positive aspects including a quote from a staff member at a senior citizen home claiming that the device’s entertainment value not only improves residents’ fitness levels, but also their mental fitness.

The article then goes on to discuss another pilot study that was done at Southern Cross University, Australia looking at the benefits of using the Wii to help Parkinson’s disease sufferers. In this case, a group of seven older people took part in the project, and were put through an almost daily regime of playing the Nintendo Wii. The associate Professor Rick van der Zwan, who led the research, said initial results were “positive. ” So, the question remains, does the Wii Fit provide any actual health benefits, for the elderly or otherwise?

Based on thorough and comprehensive research, the answer, though still being tested and perfected, is generally yes. One factor to keep in mind is that the product is relatively new, so many studies such as the one in the article, are still in progress . However, most of the articles and studies that are out at the moment claim that the preliminary or early results are optimistic. For example, a one month study that took place in the fall of 2008 at Hope College in Michigan set itself the aim of testing the effectiveness of Wii-Habilitation on 25 injured athletes.

Happily, the results of the study, which were published in ‘Clinical Kinesiology’, confirmed increased athletic balance following the rehabilitative process . One of the most interesting facts in all of this is the fact that there were so many studies being done on the product, and most were testing the Wii for a different benefit: balance of the elderly, Parkinson’s sufferers, athletic rehabilitation, etc. One point that can be misleading to consumers deals with the fact that most of the claims made in the articles are based on research studies targeting a specific outcome as mentioned above.

This can be ambiguous or deceptive to someone who believes that the Wii Fit can be used as their only source of exercise. In terms of the physiology that we have learned in class so far, two positives are that the device uses a BMI measurement and also has the potential to increase the participant’s heart rate. Some negatives include the short time intervals for the activities (normally 3 min, max 9 min) as well as the fact that the exercises are cardio specific which will cause no increase in fat free mass.

For the most part, we believe that since most of these studies and claims are independent of one another and are all showing similar positive outcomes, use of the Wii Fit must hold some positive physiological benefits . It is important to also keep in mind that no one is yet to make the claim that the Wii Fit should be used a replacement for traditional exercise, but for use as a supplement or for revitalization to reestabilish fitness; it seems to yield positive results. Overall, the success of the Wii isn’t surprising since it is a much more enjoyable alternative to traditional methods of exercise or rehabilitation.Since people enjoy playing these games, they perceive the physical activity as being easier than it actually is and are more likely to “play” more often and for a longer duration.

Reference List Original article- http://www. cnn. com/2009/HEALTH/02/11/wii. fit. elderly/index. html 1. http://www. upi. com/Health_News/2009/01/02/Determining-if-Nintendo-Wii-Fit-works/UPI-78121230938409/ 2. http://www. 411mania. com/games/news/98972/Introducing%E2%80%A6Wii-Habilitation! -. htm

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