September 2014

Patients with MS exhibit better balance, neural changes after Wii-based training

In the moment: Rehabilitation

By Emily Delzell

Using a video game balance board that provides high intensity, task-oriented, visual feedback training induces favorable short-term changes in brain microarchitecture related to movement and balance in people with multiple sclerosis, according to a study conducted by Italian neurologists at Sapienza University in Rome.

The researchers recruited 27 patients with multiple sclerosis for the two-period crossover study and randomized them to either a 12-week training program with the Wii balance board system followed by a 12-week period without intervention, or to the protocol in reverse. Investigators tested static posturography and did diffusion-tensor MRI at the study’s start and end and at 12 weeks in both test groups and 15 healthy controls.

The neurologists used streamline tractography to virtually dissect white matter tracts and check for changes in imaging parameters of cerebellar connections. Changes that correlated with objective measures of balance improvement occurred in nerve tracts that influence balance and movement. Clinical and imaging improvements disappeared after 12 weeks, and investigators speculated that changes resulted from neural plasticity.

Radiology epublished the results on August 18. -ESD


Prosperini L, Fanelli F, Petsas N, et al. Multiple sclerosis: Changes in microarchitecture of white matter tracts after training with a video game balance board. Radiology 2014 Aug 18. [Epub ahead of print]

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