In the United States, a growing portion of the population is over the age of 65. As people age, balance disorders and issues with gait increase, as do risk for falls (Salzman, 2010). “At least one-third to one-half of those aged 65 and older will fall each year; incidence increases in frequency and severity for those over age 75” (Clark & Kraemer, 2009, p. 174). Physical therapy and exercise are often utilized by physicians in order to try to prevent falls in the elderly, however, once a patient falls there is an increased risk that they will fall again within one year (Salzman, 2010). The causes of falls in patients ages 65 and over can vary based on multiple factors, such as diabetes, hypertension, or osteoarthritis, and “exercise programs may target strength, balance, flexibility, or endurance” (Salzman, 2010, p. 66). Falls can create very serious health problems and “are the leading cause of injury deaths, as well as the most common cause of nonfatal injuries for older adults” (Clark & Kraemer, 2009, p. 174). Nurses must be aware of patients that are fall risks, the complications that can occur related to falls, and the fact that “prevention of falls has economic consequences” (Hosseini & Hosseini, 2008, p. 15). As the percentage of the population in the United States over the age of 65 continues to grow, the number of falls will also increase, which will increase medical costs; “The direct medical costs for nonfatal fall injuries totaled $19 billion in 2000” and is expected to reach “more than $43.8 billion” by 2020” (Clark & Kraemer, 2009, p. 174). This research study will utilize Wii Fit games as a form of exercise, in order to study whether or not the use of Wii Fit games increases balance in adults over the age of 65, who have mild balance dysfunction. The Wii was chosen as an intervention because it has a low cost, “as well as activity that involved many of the key biological systems (eg, visual, somatosensory, vestibular) involved in maintaining balance” (Clark & Kraemer, 2009, p. 177).
Statement of Problem: “Gait and balance disorders are common in older adults and are a major cause of falls in this population. They are associated with increased morbidity and mortality, as well as reduced level of function” (Salzman, 2010, p.61). There are a number of health factors that affect balance dysfunction in the elderly. Doctors and nurses need to assess the individual’s history of falls and their health status in order to prevent further falls (Salzman, 2010). Physical therapists can promote quality of life by helping people with balance dysfunction increase their physical strength (Salzman, 2010). “At least 30 percent of persons 65 and older report difficulty walking three city blocks or climbing one flight of stairs, and approximately 20 percent require the use of a mobility aid to ambulate” (Salzman, 2010, p.62). As the elderly population increases in the United States there is a higher demand for fall prevention and community collaboration to decrease falls for individuals over the age of 65 (Hosseini & Hosseini, 2008).
Preventing falls has economic benefits as well as quality of life benefits for individuals (Hosseini & Hosseini, 2008). The best way to promote awareness of risk factors for fall risks is community involvement (Hosseini & Hosseini, 2008). These are some organizations that can improve fall prevention strategies by providing community involvement; “…nursing homes, hospitals, insurance companies, community organizations, and even the government” (Hosseini & Hosseini, 2008, p. 15). Due to the increase in the elderly population, prevention programs as well as education for community are ways to decrease falls among the population. Some risk factors for falls include: weakness, chronic illness, having balance problems, and a history of falling (Hosseini & Hosseini, 2008, p.16).
Since there is an increase in the elderly population nurses must advocate for their patients and