Force platforms are commonly used by physical therapists for assessing the balance of patients’ postures, and for tracking progress of rehabilitation. The devices typically cost thousands of dollars, hence they can be prohibitively expensive for many clinics. To see if clinical measurements can be performed using a cheaper solution, researchers at University of Melbourne tested Nintendo’s Wii Balance Board (WBB) against a laboratory-grade force platform (FP), and concluded that the cheaper option can provide results “suitable for the clinical setting”. Perhaps the Wii Balance Board can be used for some entertaining exercises when not utilized for posture assessment.
From the study abstract:
Thirty subjects without lower limb pathology performed a combination of single and double leg standing balance tests with eyes open or closed on two separate occasions. Data from the WBB were acquired using a laptop computer. The test–retest reliability for COP path length for each of the testing devices, including a comparison of the WBB and FP data, was examined using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC), Bland–Altman plots (BAP) and minimum detectable change (MDC). Both devices exhibited good to excellent COP path length test–retest reliability within-device (ICC = 0.66–0.94) and between-device (ICC = 0.77–0.89) on all testing protocols. Examination of the BAP revealed no relationship between the difference and the mean in any test, however the MDC values for the WBB did exceed those of the FP in three of the four tests. These findings suggest that the WBB is a valid tool for assessing standing balance. Given that the WBB is portable, widely available and a fraction of the cost of a FP, it could provide the average clinician with a standing balance assessment tool suitable for the clinical setting.
Abstract in Gain & Posture: Validity and reliability of the Nintendo Wii Balance Board for assessment of standing balance
Image credit: serafini
(hat tip: NewScientist)