Balance control decreases in the elderly and currently 33 to 50 percent of people over 65 years of age experience a fall each year resulting in ten thousand deaths annually. Many balance‐training programs use expensive equipment and a clinical setting for the training. The need for reliable and low cost tools is essential for fall prevention and rehabilitation of the aging population. Virtual reality gaming is emerging as a solution for this problem. The purpose of the six week study was to determine the effects of virtual reality gaming, specifically the Nintendo Wii Fit Balance Board (WBB), on dynamic balance in older adults that was accomplished using a randomized repeated measures research study which included a control group design utilizing the 8 foot Up and Go (8ft UG), Activities‐specific Balance Confidence Scale (ABC), and Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) before and after 6 weeks of balance training. Forty subjects (female=26; male=14) between the ages of 60 and 95 were voluntarily recruited for the study and were randomly divided into a control group (CG) and a virtual reality group (VRG). The CG received pre‐post testing only while the VRG was assigned to use the WBB under the supervision of a physical therapist; pre‐post testing was completed by two additional physical therapist that were blinded to the randomized groupings. The WBB exercises included lunges, single leg extensions and twist with a warm up and cool down before and after each session. Results of the study revealed a significant increase in confidence with activity and functional movement for the VRG relative to CG (p<. 05). GDS were normal for both groups with no significant difference. The results of this study indicate the Wii Fit virtual reality gaming system improves balance and postural stability in older adults. Improved confidence with functional activities was reported. The sample pool from which the participants were selected is a limiting factor in terms of generalizing the outcomes measures. A second limitation relates to the lack of comparison to any other form of traditional physical therapy balance training program. Further study would address these identified factors.

LLU Discipline

Physical Therapy


Physical Therapy


School of Allied Health Professions

First Advisor

Lohman, Everett B., III

Second Advisor

Bradley, Bruce

Third Advisor

Johnson, Eric

Fourth Advisor

Medina, Ernie, Jr.

Fifth Advisor

Thorpe, Donna

Degree Name

Doctor of Science (DSc)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Rehabilitation; Physical Therapy; Virtual Reality in Medicine; Augmented Reality - Therapeutic Use; Physical Therapy Modalities; Postural Balance; Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy; Older People

Subject - Local

Balance Control; Elderly; Balance-training Programs; Nintendo Wii Fit Balance Board; Activities-Specific Balance Confidence Scale; Geriatric Depression Scale



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives