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Research News Flash


Summary:  Whitney Neal

Source Article:  Kim, S. S., Min, W. K., Kim, J. H., & Lee, B. H. (2014). The effects of vr-based wii fit yoga on physical function in middle-aged female LBP Patients. Journal of physical therapy science, 26(4), 549.

Low back pain (LBP) is a major healthcare problem in industrialized societies and is experienced by 80 percent of adults at least once in their lifetimes. In a previous study, LBP was more prevalent in women than men, and especially prevalent in women in the middle-aged category. Consequently, therapeutic intervention and preventative activities for LBP are much more important for middle-aged women. An accumulating body of research indicates that yoga can be effective for the relief of LBP symptoms, including reducing pain and improving function. What’s more, as science and technology have progressed, rehabilitation programs have begun to use virtual reality games for therapeutic purposes. The Wii Fit yoga program from Nintendo, which requires completion of yoga activities in a virtual reality environment, is known to be effective for actually allowing participants to follow the yoga movements without any prior professional yoga experience. For that reason, the goal of this study was to examine the effects of Wii Fit yoga on physical function in middle-aged LBP patients.

The research was conducted at a hospital in Seoul, South Korea, with 30 middle-aged LBP sufferers. All participants were diagnosed with chronic low back pain after a thorough examination by a medical doctor and then separated into two groups, an experimental group and a control group. The experimental group and control group had a mean age of 44.33 and 50.46 years, respectively. There were no significant differences between the groups. The experimental group performed Wii Fit yoga for a total of 12 sessions over the course of three weeks, with each session lasting thirty minutes. Participants performed activities such as deep breathing, as well as the half-moon, warrior, tree, chest-to-knee, chair, and palm tree poses. Each exercise was performed for three minutes, followed by one minute of rest. The control group performed 30 minutes of trunk stabilizing exercises and 30 minutes of normal physical therapy during the same time period. The bridge, side-bridge on knees, and balancing on unstable surfaces are a few examples of trunk stabilizing exercises performed. Each movement was comprised of two sets lasting 30 minutes.

A Visual Analog Scale (VAS) was used to rate pain felt by participants on a scale of "1" to "10," with "10" being the most excruciating pain. To examine functional level when experiencing LBP, the Oswestry low-back pain disability index (ODI) was completed. Disability severity was measured using the Roland Morris disability questionnaire (RDQ). Finally, the fear of lower back pain was measured using the fear avoidance beliefs questionnaire (FBQ). Pain sensitivity in participants was measured using pressure algometry. Pressure algometry has proven to be a reliable measure of pain in muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Algometers are designed to quantify and document levels of tenderness and pain sensitivity via pressure threshold and pain tolerance measurements.

The results revealed significant differences between pre- and post-training VAS, algometer, ODI, RDQ, and FBQ in both groups. Pain reduction was more significant in the experimental group as shown by the VAS, ODI, and FBQ scores. This validates that low back pain can be eased through use of a virtual reality-based exercise program like Wii Fit yoga. Future studies with a larger sample size and a longer intervention should be done to further assess the benefits of Wii Fit yoga on middle-aged women with chronic low back pain.


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