Evaluating the Nintendo Wii for Assessing Return to Activity Readiness in Youth with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
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Adolescents with mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI) are at substantial risk for repeat injury if they return to activity too soon. Post-concussion symptoms and impaired balance are two factors that limit return to activity. Post-injury assessments that challenge activity tolerance and balance skills are needed to ensure readiness to return to activity. This cross-sectional study evaluated the Nintendo Wii as a measure of exertion (heart rate [HR], respiration rate [RR], and caloric expenditure) and balance testing for youth with MTBI in a clinical setting. Twenty-four youth with MTBI, ages 9-18, played six Wii games. The Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency 2nd edition (BOT-2) and the Community Balance and Mobility Scale (CBM) were used as balance indicators. The Wii Fit Running game demonstrated the highest caloric expenditure and HR (p = .010). Frequency counts of balance loss during Wii game play did not correlate with performance on the BOT-2 or the CBM. Type, number, and time since injury were predictive of balance performance on the CBM (p = .008). Findings provide preliminary evidence for the use of the Wii as an exertion challenge to evaluate tolerance for exercise post-concussion. Frequency count of balance loss during Wii game play, however, was not a valid measure of balance impairment post-MTBI.
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