Playing Wii Games Could Help Children co-ordinate movements

Playing on the Nintendo Wii Fit could help improve the development of children with movement difficulties, research suggests.

Regular use of balance games on the computer console could have a positive impact on the motor skills of children with developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), researchers say.

Using the game could also help improve children’s social and emotional behaviour related to the condition.

Active computer games could help six per cent of children who have difficulty co-ordinating their movements

UK-based researchers studied two groups of children with DCD or other movement difficulties over one month.

One group spent 10 minutes, three times a week, using the Wii Fit during their lunch break while the other group took part in a programme aimed at helping children develop motor skills.

The results found “significant gains” in motor proficiency, the child’s perception of their motor ability and reported emotional well-being for the children using the console over those who did not.

Lead researcher Professor Elisabeth Hill from the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, said the pilot study provides evidence to support the use of the computer within therapeutic programmes for children with movement difficulties.

‘The results provide interesting points warranting further discussion, particularly in view of the fact that many children have access to the Nintendo Wii Fit and may be using this system at home with minimal supervision,’ she said.

‘This simple, popular intervention represents a plausible method to support children’s motor and psychosocial development.’

Dr Ian Male, of West Sussex Primary Care Trust, added: ‘Children with DCD experience poor motor and psychosocial outcomes.

‘Interventions are often limited within the health care system, and little is known about how technology might be used within schools or homes to promote the motor skills and or psychosocial development of these children.’

Co-researcher Dr Dido Green, from Oxford Brookes University, added: ‘These preliminary results highlight the need for further research to inform across these, and other questions, regarding the implementation of virtual reality technologies in therapeutic services for children with movement difficulties.’

DCD is believed to affect around six per cent of children who are school aged and tends to occur more frequently in boys.

Children with the disorder often have difficulty performing tasks that involve both large and small muscles, including throwing or catching balls, doing up buttons and forming letters when they write.