First ever UK Wii-habilitation study for Parkinson's
2 December 2010
We have awarded an innovation grant
of nearly £35,000 to Dr Cathy Craig at the School of Psychology,
Queen's University Belfast, to investigate the potential benefits
of the Nintendo Wii for people with Parkinson's
This research will explore the science behind the potential benefits for people with Parkinson's using the Wii.
Dr Kieran Breen, Director of Research
We've invested in this research because of
overwhelming feedback we've received from
people with Parkinson's, who find that using a Wii is a really good
way to exercise at home. They have said that it also helps
them with their balance, movements and mood.
How can exercise help?
Existing research shows that exercise could protect the nerve cells that are
dying in Parkinson's, helping them work better and survive for
As Parkinson's develops, many people experience slowed movement,
rigidity and tremor, as well as lack of balance and co-ordination.
These symptoms often get worse over
time. Difficulty with memory and attention are also common for
people with Parkinson's.
What people with Parkinson's say about the Nintendo Wii
In a recent snap poll of people with Parkinson's who use the
Wii, 81% of respondents said that they use it for
exercise. Two thirds (68%) felt that using the Wii helps them
manage their symptoms.
1 in 3 respondents said that they use the Wii every day.
39% use it at least once a week.
Rose, 47, from Bristol, is currently being featured in one of
Nintendo's real story TV adverts. She started using the Wii a
couple years ago and uses the Wii Fit.
"Keeping moving is really important because of the stiffness. By
doing the Wii I find that you loosen up the muscles that are
"Most people with Parkinson's find that they lose their
confidence. So I tend to do exercise at home.
"I’ve got all the benefits of a gym, but I can do it to fit in
with my lifestyle and my medication."
Watch the Nintendo Wii advertisement featuring Karen Rose (1
Watch an extended clip of Karen Rose filmed for Nintendo (1
minute 4 seconds)
What will the researchers do?
Dr Craig's team will evaluate the benefits of existing
games using Wii technology. The researchers will then aim to
harness the power of this movement-based game technology to develop
their own bespoke games to be used by people with Parkinson's.
2 groups of people with Parkinson's will take part in the
research. The first group will be asked to use the existing Wii
system. The second group will try out new, specially designed
Dr Craig said:
"If the project is successful the benefits could be twofold. It
could allow us to develop a simple way to assess Parkinson’s
symptoms yet provide a safe and effective way for people with the
condition to be more active and keep fit."
What this means for people with Parkinson's
Dr Kieran Breen, our Director of Research and Development
"This research will explore the science behind the potential
benefits for people with Parkinson's using the Wii. It could lead
to more people feeling confident about using the Wii in the comfort
of their homes.
"The Wii also has the potential to be used as a way of measuring
the symptoms for Parkinson's in future clinical trials of other
More about Parkinson's and the Wii