January 7, 2022


by: admin


Tags: Autism, Balance, games, improve, Reduce, Symptoms, Teens, video


Categories: autism

Video Video games Assist Enhance Steadiness, Scale back Signs in Teenagers with Autism

Motor skills can be a struggle for people with autism. This also includes the ability to balance. A new study found that video games with a balance board can help with this problem, and the benefits may extend beyond motor skills.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison had teenagers with autism play Nintendo Wii games in which participants mimicked tai chi and yoga poses on a balance board. The results, published in Brain Communications magazine, show that these games helped improve balance as well as other symptoms related to autism.


Brittany Travers, co-author of the study and professor of occupational therapy, says teenagers with autism tend to see their plateau of balance control before their neurotypical peers. These motor control problems are linked to more severe symptoms of autism and more difficulty completing everyday tasks. She would like to learn more through this link.

She explains, “I’m really interested in better understanding if there is a third variable that explains the relationship each (study) found in terms of motor and central autism characteristics.”

To investigate this, the team had teenagers with and without autism hold yoga and tai chi poses for as long as possible. The longer they held these poses, the brighter an image on the screen became, which the researchers said gave participants instant feedback on their performance. Halfway through each session, they were allowed to play other games. These one-hour practice sessions were held three times a week for six weeks.


The researchers said that at the end of this period, participants were able to hold a pose an average of 36 seconds longer than they did at the start of the study. This improvement could have an impact in the real world.

Travers explains, “When we think about what it will take to prop up yourself if you slip on ice or get in a tub, that extra 36 seconds could be something to keep you from actually falling.”

The benefits didn’t stop there. Participants also had a significant improvement in their ability to maintain posture, as well as a significant decrease in the severity of communication problems, repetitive behavior, and increased interest in something. In addition, MRI scans showed changes in white matter that are involved in both motor skills and symptoms of autism.


The researchers also suggest that both teenagers with autism and those who were neurotypical learned the games equally quickly.

Says Travers, “We see that this video game world could be a place where autistic individuals can excel and where those cognitive differences that we measure on an IQ test just don’t seem to apply.”

If you would like to learn more about the study, click here.


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