Objective: This series of studies was conducted to establish the parameters of a novel video game for successful use by older adults. The video game used was a modified version of the popular Dance Dance Revolution™ (Konomi) exergame.
Methods: Participants aged 70 and above were asked to make simple step movements in response to vertically drifting arrows presented on a video screen. Step responses were detected by a modified USB DDR mat and characteristics of stepping performance such as step timing, percentage of missed target steps and percentage of correct steps were recorded by purpose built software. Drift speed and step rate of visual stimuli were modified to increase task difficulty.
Results: Significant linear relationships between stepping performance and stimulus characteristics were observed. Performance of older adults decreased as stimulus speed and step rate were increased. Optimal step performance occurred for a stimulus speed of 17 degrees of visual angle per second and a step rate of one step every two seconds. At fast drift speeds (up to 35deg/sec), participants were more than 200msec too slow in coordinating their steps with the visual stimulus. Younger adults were better able to perform the stepping task across a wider range of drift speeds than older adults.
Conclusion: The findings suggest that older adults are able to interact with video games based upon Dance Dance Revolution but that stepping performance is determined by characteristics of game play such as arrow drift speed and step rate. These novel exergames suggest a low cost method by which older adults can be engaged in exercises that challenge balance that can be conducted in their own homes.
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