A usability study of a multicomponent video game-based training for older adults.Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2020; 17:3.ER
Aging is often accompanied by a decline in sensory, motor and cognitive functions. These age- and lifestyle-related impairments may lead to reduced daily life functioning including gait disturbances, falling and injuries. Most daily life activities, e.g. walking, are tasks which require the concurrent interplay of physical and cognitive functions. Promising options for combined physical-cognitive training are video game-based physical exercises, so-called exergames. This study aimed to [i] determine the usability of a newly developed multicomponent exergame and [ii] explore its effects on physical functions, cognition and cortical activity.
Twenty-one healthy and independently living older adults were included (10 female, 71.4 ± 5.8 years, range: 65-91) and performed 21 training sessions (each 40 min) over seven weeks. The multicomponent exergame included strength and balance training with Tai Chi-inspired and dance exercises. Participants rated the usability of the exergame (System Usability Scale) and reported on their emotional experience (Game Experience Questionnaire). Attendance and attrition rates were calculated to determine training compliance. Before and after the intervention, physical and cognitive functions as well as resting state electroencephalography (EEG) were assessed.
Results showed a high training attendance rate (87.1%, 18/21 training sessions on average) and a low attrition rate (9.5%, 2 drop-outs). System usability was rated high with a mean score of 75/100. Affective game experience was rated favorable. Gait speed under dual-task condition, lower extremity muscle strength and reaction times in a cognitive task (divided attention) showed significant improvements (p < .05). No significant pre-post differences were found for resting state EEG.
The newly developed exergame seems usable for healthy older adults. Nevertheless, some aspects of the exergame prototype can and should be improved. The training showed to positively influence physical and cognitive functions in a small convenience sample. Future trials are warranted which evaluate the feasibility and usability of the exergame training in a more "real-life" in-home setting and assess the behavioral and neuroplastic changes in a larger population after a longer training period with comparison to a control group.