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J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2019 Jan 29;16(1):17. doi: 10.1186/s12984-019-0492-1.

Recent advances in rehabilitation for Parkinson's Disease with Exergames: A Systematic Review.

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Multimedia Communications Lab, Technische Universitaet Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany.
Department of Medical Psychology | Neuropsychology and Gender Studies & Center for Neuropsychological Diagnostics and Intervention (CeNDI), University Hospital Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
Multimedia Communications Lab, Technische Universitaet Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany.



The goal of this contribution is to gather and to critically analyze recent evidence regarding the potential of exergaming for Parkinson's disease (PD) rehabilitation and to provide an up-to-date analysis of the current state of studies on exergame-based therapy in PD patients.


We performed our search based on the conclusions of a previous systematic review published in 2014. Inclusion criteria were articles published in the indexed databases Pubmed, Scopus, Sciencedirect, IEEE and Cochrane published since January 1, 2014. Exclusion criteria were papers with a target group other than PD patients exclusively, or contributions not based on exergames. Sixty-four publications out of 525 matches were selected.


The analysis of the 64 selected publications confirmed the putative improvement in motor skills suggested by the results of the previous review. The reliability and safety of both Microsoft Kinect and Wii Balance Board in the proposed scenarios was further confirmed by several recent studies. Clinical trials present better (n = 5) or similar (n = 3) results than control groups (traditional rehabilitation or regular exercise) in motor (TUG, BBS) and cognitive (attention, alertness, working memory, executive function), thus emphasizing the potential of exergames in PD. Pilot studies (n = 11) stated the safety and feasibility of both Microsoft Kinect and Wii Balance Board, potentially in home scenarios as well. Technical papers (n = 30) stated the reliability of balance and gait data captured by both devices. Related meta-analyses and systematic reviews (n = 15) further support these statements, generally citing the need for adaptation to patient's skills and new input devices and sensors as identified gaps.


Recent evidence indicates exergame-based therapy has been widely proven to be feasible, safe, and at least as effective as traditional PD rehabilitation. Further insight into new sensors, best practices and different cognitive stadiums of PD (such as PD with Mild Cognitive Impairment), as well as task specificity, are required. Also, studies linking game parameters and results with traditional assessment methods, such as UPDRS scores, are required. Outcomes for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) should be standardized, and follow-up studies are required, particularly for motor outcomes.


Cognitive Impairment; Cognitive training; Exergames; Parkinson’s Disease; Rehabilitation; Serious Games

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