Effectiveness and feasibility of virtual reality and gaming system use at home by older adults for enabling physical activity to improve health-related domains

The use of virtual reality and commercial gaming systems (VR/gaming) at home by older adults is getting attention as a way of facilitating physical activity. This study sought to summarise evidence for the effectiveness and feasibility of VR/gaming system utilisation by older adults at home for enabling physical activity to improve impairments, activity limitations or participation. Fourteen studies investigating the effects of VR/gaming system use by healthy older adults and people with neurological conditions on activity limitations, body functions and physical impairments and cognitive and emotional well-being met the selection criteria. Study quality ratings were low and, due to this, evidence was not strong enough to conclude that interventions were effective. Feasibility was inconsistently reported in studies. Where feasibility was discussed, strong retention (≥70%) and adherence (≥64%) was reported. Initial assistance to use the technologies, and the need for monitoring exertion, aggravation of musculoskeletal symptoms and falls risk were reported.

Existing evidence to support the feasibility and efficacy VR/gaming systems use by older adults at home to facilitate physical activity to address impairments, activity limitations and participation is weak with a high risk of bias. The findings of this review could inform future, more rigorous research.

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