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Open Access Research article

A cognitive-motor intervention using a dance video game to enhance foot placement accuracy and gait under dual task conditions in older adults: a randomized controlled trial

Giuseppe Pichierri, Kurt Murer and Eling D de Bruin*

Author Affiliations

Department Health Sciences and Technology (D-HEST), Institute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

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BMC Geriatrics 2012, 12:74  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-74

Published: 14 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Computer-based interventions have demonstrated consistent positive effects on various physical abilities in older adults. This study aims to compare two training groups that achieve similar amounts of strength and balance exercise where one group receives an intervention that includes additional dance video gaming. The aim is to investigate the different effects of the training programs on physical and psychological parameters in older adults.

Methods

Thirty-one participants (mean age ± SD: 86.2 ± 4.6 years), residents of two Swiss hostels for the aged, were randomly assigned to either the dance group (n = 15) or the control group (n = 16). The dance group absolved a twelve-week cognitive-motor exercise program twice weekly that comprised progressive strength and balance training supplemented with additional dance video gaming. The control group performed only the strength and balance exercises during this period. Outcome measures were foot placement accuracy, gait performance under single and dual task conditions, and falls efficacy.

Results

After the intervention between-group comparison revealed significant differences for gait velocity (U = 26, P = .041, r = .45) and for single support time (U = 24, P = .029, r = .48) during the fast walking dual task condition in favor of the dance group. No significant between-group differences were observed either in the foot placement accuracy test or in falls efficacy.

Conclusions

There was a significant interaction in favor of the dance video game group for improvements in step time. Significant improved fast walking performance under dual task conditions (velocity, double support time, step length) was observed for the dance video game group only. These findings suggest that in older adults a cognitive-motor intervention may result in more improved gait under dual task conditions in comparison to a traditional strength and balance exercise program.

Trial registration

This trial has been registered under ISRCTN05350123 ( http://www.controlled-trials.com webcite)

Keywords:
Dual task; Dance video game; Gait; Older adults; Cognitive-motor intervention