COMPUTER GAMES: Mavis and George Newell of Goonellabah with Dr Suzanne Broadbent as they play Wii games at Southern Cross University yesterday.
COMPUTER GAMES: Mavis and George Newell of Goonellabah with Dr Suzanne Broadbent as they play Wii games at Southern Cross University yesterday. Doug Eaton

Elderly now playing video games to stay fit

NINTENDO Wii games and the elderly don't usually go together, but in a new study from Southern Cross University, the two will be put to the test - together.

Academics from SCU are preparing to run a pilot study using a Wii console to focus on strength and balance exercises to prevent falls and strengthen the lower limbs in older adults, said project leader and senior SCU lecturer, Dr Suzanne Broadbent.

"There are a number of active Wii games that we can use with our participants to see whether it can help them physically," Dr Broadbent said.

"The idea of the project is to try to reduce the risk of falls in older people, so we're looking to increase lower leg strength, strength around the hip, improve people's posture and balance, and improve some of their aerobic fitness as well.

"For many older Australians, exercise becomes a chore at a time of life when it so beneficial. Building up strength and fitness can help to avoid a fall as someone becomes older."

Dr Broadbent explained that it is estimated that more than 250,000 older people fall each year, some several times.

"Besides the very real human cost of a fall on someone elderly, there is also a considerable cost to the health service," she said.

"A study in 2006-07 showed that there were 143,000 medically treated fall-related injuries among older people which resulted in lifetime treatments costs of more than $500 million."

The researchers are looking for volunteers aged 60 years and over to participate in the study.

"We are seeking volunteers who don't do a lot of exercise already," Dr Broadbent said.

They'll be running the project in two, 12-week blocks.

For further information please contact Dr Suzanne Broadbent on 6620 3394.


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