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Research profile

Virtual reality or “exergaming” is increasingly being used as a fun way of motivating people to get started with an exercise programme, and continue exercising long-term.

Wifit Physio Photo

Our research investigates the physiological effects of exergaming, to see whether increased participation produces clinical benefits for patients with musculoskeletal conditions such knee osteoarthritis or ankle sprain.

Treatment choices can then be rationalised to match identified deficits in balance and improve patient outcomes.

Current research areas

Knee Osteoarthritis and exergaming for strength and balance

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is common, with high and rising costs to individuals and society.

Muscle weakness and instability (giving way) are common symptoms of knee OA and may contribute to functional decline, loss of confidence, and increased falls risk. Instability is described as buckling, shifting or giving way of the knee during activities of daily living.

Knee instability affects quality of life in older adults by reducing participation in their usual activities, and may increase loss of confidence and fear of falling

Exercise and physical activity are known beneficial interventions, but few people follow them long-term; strategies to engage people with knee OA in ongoing exercise are urgently required. A novel and fun intervention using Wii Fit™ has potential to do this, but its impact on joint structure and function is unknown. Instability of the knee is a common feature of knee OA, with a prevalence of up to 65%.

Well-designed randomised controlled trials (RCT) are needed to investigate if increasing muscle strength reduces knee instability in people with knee OA and decreases falls risk and functional decline.

Active knee OA research projects

Does exercise using the Wii Fit™ increase muscle strength and decrease instability in people with knee osteoarthritis? A feasibility study

This study measures muscle strength around the knee in people with knee OA before and after a twelve week intervention using the Wii Fit™ in clinical and home settings. The feasibility of conducting a larger, fully-powered clinical trial will be determined.

This study is funded by Arthritis New Zealand and The Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust

The use of Nintendo Wii Fit™ in improving falls risk, balance and adherence to exercise in patients with Knee Osteoarthritis

PhD candidate Donald Manlapaz is looking at falls risk, and balance in patients with knee osteoarthritis. He hopes to investigate the use of the Wii Fit™ gaming system as an intervention for these patients.

To read more about PhD candidate Donald Manlapaz

Research students

PhD candidate Donald Manlapaz The use of Nintendo Wii Fit™ in improving falls risk, balance and adherence to exercise in patients with Knee Osteoarthritis

Kirsty Caneda, OMRF Summer Studentship 2018/19 How does an app-based programme compare to established measures of dynamic stability of the ankle?

Further information

To find out more about this study please email

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