Flat Earth News

Nintendo and the grannies - a mystery

Click here to go to the main blog page.

Tagged: / Posted: 5 February 2009

 A reader of Flat Earth News spotted the following story on the BBC website. It raises some questions about how it was set up. Or, as the reader put it: "Are these old grannies getting some form of 'kickback' for this? Or a free Nintendo?"



Researchers in Aberdeen are looking for people over 70 to take part in a study to see if the Nintendo Wii Fit could help their balance.

The University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian want to find out if the games system's balance board can help prevent older people falling.

They are looking for volunteers who have fallen at least once in the past year and can attend regular sessions.

The study is being funded by the British Geriatrics Society (BGS).


The research will look at the effect of gentle exercises with the game's balance board.

The idea of came from Dr Alison Stewart, commercial research manager with NHS Grampian and an honorary research fellow at the University of Aberdeen.

She said: "When I was working in the University of Aberdeen's osteoporosis unit, my main aim was to prevent fractures.

A total of 90% of hip fractures are due to falls.

"As many older people have a problem with their balance, I wanted to investigate balance and initially I proposed using a piece of equipment that cost several thousand pounds."

She explained: "When no grants were forthcoming to pay for this equipment, I heard that the Wii Fit balance board might do exactly the same thing.

"I'm hoping this will be the case and that it will also provide our volunteers with the added value of being entertained at the same time."


The study will be carried out at Woodend Hospital.

Dr Marie Fraser, a specialist registrar at the hospital, said: "Falls are the most common cause of accidental injury in older people and the most common cause of accidental death in 75 year olds and over.

"The over 65s who live independently in the community fall at a rate of 30% a year, and this rises as they get older.

"Falls cause real problems both for the individual and for our population as a whole. As well as causing injury, they can lead to loss of confidence, a fear of falling, reduced quality of life and even early death. They also have a healthcare cost."

She said: "NHS Grampian's department of medicine for the elderly is working closely with colleagues at the University of Aberdeen to explore and develop innovative approaches to improving balance.

"We are evaluating the efficacy of computer-assisted exercise programmes to see if these are suitable and acceptable to the elderly population."

Volunteers, who should live in their own home or in sheltered housing in the Aberdeen area, would have an initial assessment by a physiotherapist. They can ring 01224 556789 .


Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/02/05 00:07:52 GMT



Added: 1 June 2009

I hope other Companies don't jump on this Motion Sensitive controller band-wagon.. I enjoy sitting down and playing my video games, not so much flapping my arms at the screen wondering why my Wii won't swing his Club.

Oui Wee

Added: 24 April 2009

We've been following this as well. We haven't yet put together all of the research, but there is a very clear pattern all over the western world. In Australia there are far too many examples for it to pass the stink test.

We have set up a blog at www.stopmurdoch.blogspot.com to try to look at ACTION as opposed to calling out the failings (valuable as that work is). More can and must be done.

PS just finished the book, loved it, very good and sad but.... we believe that all the evidence points to Murdoch et al deliberately crushing journalism rather than the death of journalism being just a sad side effect of rampant commercialism. For example, Murdoch has lost tens of millions on crap papers such as 'The Australian' and 'The New York Post' just to ensure that they become insidious.

An Aberdeen researcher replies

Added: 6 February 2009

Just wanted to reassure your readers about the BBC story of a study in
Aberdeen into the acceptability and efficacy of the WiiFit for older
people with a history of falls. I am one of the researchers in the study.
No one involved has any links with Nintendo and the study is funded by the
British Geriatrics Society, a medical charity, as clearly stated in the
story. The volunteers participate out of the kindness of their heart (such
people do exist) and get nothing in return. The research team are
geriatricians and we want to see if using the WiiFit may be beneficial for
older people with balance problems. The WiiFit is much cheaper than the
techniques we use now. The study has the approval of our local NHS ethics
committee which sets very strict standards of conduct to which we abide.

Wii stories

Added: 4 March 2009

Old people playing with Wiis has been all over the U.S. press for months. My small-town paper is on its third gee-whiz story about it.

Here's a Christian Science Monitor story (http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1127/p01s05-ussc.html) that says the exercise-for-the elderly thing was unexpected though later capitalized on.

They're using the things in the hospitals, nursing homes and in the libraries here. Lots of public money going to Nintendo.

A merketing coup however it started.

>>> Archive of Nick Davies work >>>