Developing an exergame for unsupervised home-based balance training in older adults

Mike van Diest

    Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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    More than one third of community living individuals aged 65 years and older falls at least once per year. Fall incidents are among the leading causes of injury and disability in seniors and the cost of falls in the Netherlands are estimated at €780 million per year. Age-related deterioration of balance control is one of the major causes of falls. The aim of this dissertation is to develop and test an exercise videogame (an exergame) that enables older adults to train balance at home and without supervision. In the exergame, the user controls a virtual ice skater on a frozen canal by making lateral whole-body sway movements. These movements are captured using a 3D camera (Kinect) and used to animate the virtual skater, which is displayed on TV. It was found that Kinect captures movement patterns accurately and that these patterns contain information about balance control. Implementing these pattern recognition algorithms in exergames hold the potential of measuring balance control during exergaming, thereby adjusting the game to the individual user.

    The exergame was developed together with older adults to ensure a good understanding of the user requirements. A prototype of the game was tested in a pilot study in which older adults (age 65-88) played the exergame 3 times per week for a period of 6 weeks. All participants completed the program, and played even more than requested. The results showed an improvement in balance control in some participants and a difference in rate of improvement between participants. These findings underline the importance of individualized training programs.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • Verkerke, Bart, Supervisor
    • Postema, Klaas, Supervisor
    • Lamoth, Claudine, Co-supervisor
    • Stegenga, Jan, Co-supervisor, External person
    Award date15-Feb-2016
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Print ISBNs978-90-367-8599-0
    Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-8600-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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