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Effectiveness of a Wii balance board-based system (eBaViR) for balance rehabilitation: a pilot randomized clinical trial in patients with acquired brain injury

José-Antonio Gil-Gómez1*, Roberto Lloréns1, Mariano Alcañiz13 and Carolina Colomer2

  • * Corresponding author: José-Antonio Gil-Gómez jgil@upv.es

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto Interuniversitario de Investigación en Bioingeniería y Tecnología Orientada al Ser Humano, Universitat Politècnica de València, C. Vera s/n, 46022 Valencia, Spain

2 Servicio de Neurorrehabilitación de los Hospitales NISA Valencia al Mar y Sevilla Aljarafe, Fundación NISA, Valencia, Spain

3 Ciber, Fisiopatología Obesidad y Nutrición, CB06/03 Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Av. Sos Baynat s/n, Univesity of Jaume I, 12071 Castellón, Spain

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Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2011, 8:30  doi:10.1186/1743-0003-8-30

Published: 23 May 2011

Abstract

Background

Acquired brain injury (ABI) is the main cause of death and disability among young adults. In most cases, survivors can experience balance instability, resulting in functional impairments that are associated with diminished health-related quality of life. Traditional rehabilitation therapy may be tedious. This can reduce motivation and adherence to the treatment and thus provide a limited benefit to patients with balance disorders. We present eBaViR (easy Balance Virtual Rehabilitation), a system based on the Nintendo® Wii Balance Board® (WBB), which has been designed by clinical therapists to improve standing balance in patients with ABI through motivational and adaptative exercises. We hypothesize that eBaViR, is feasible, safe and potentially effective in enhancing standing balance.

Methods

In this contribution, we present a randomized and controlled single blinded study to assess the influence of a WBB-based virtual rehabilitation system on balance rehabilitation with ABI hemiparetic patients. This study describes the eBaViR system and evaluates its effectiveness considering 20 one-hour-sessions of virtual reality rehabilitation (n = 9) versus standard rehabilitation (n = 8). Effectiveness was evaluated by means of traditional static and dynamic balance scales.

Results

The final sample consisted of 11 men and 6 women. Mean ± SD age was 47.3 ± 17.8 and mean ± SD chronicity was 570.9 ± 313.2 days. Patients using eBaViR had a significant improvement in static balance (p = 0.011 in Berg Balance Scale and p = 0.011 in Anterior Reaches Test) compared to patients who underwent traditional therapy. Regarding dynamic balance, the results showed significant improvement over time in all these measures, but no significant group effect or group-by-time interaction was detected for any of them, which suggests that both groups improved in the same way. There were no serious adverse events during treatment in either group.

Conclusions

The results suggest that eBaViR represents a safe and effective alternative to traditional treatment to improve static balance in the ABI population. These results have encouraged us to reinforce the virtual treatment with new exercises, so an evolution of the system is currently being developed.