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Wii could improve child development

Using the Nintendo Wii Fit could help improve the development of children with movement difficulties, research suggests.

Regular use of balance games on the computer console could have a positive impact on the motor skills of children with developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), researchers say.

Using the game could also help improve children's social and emotional behaviour related to the condition.

UK-based researchers studied two groups of children with DCD or other movement difficulties over one month.

One group spent 10 minutes, three times a week, using the Wii Fit during their lunch break while the other group took part in a programme aimed at helping children develop motor skills.

The results found "significant gains" in motor proficiency, the child's perception of their motor ability and reported emotional well-being for the children using the console over those who did not.

Lead researcher Professor Elisabeth Hill from the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, said the pilot study provides evidence to support the use of the computer within therapeutic programmes for children with movement difficulties.

"The results provide interesting points warranting further discussion, particularly in view of the fact that many children have access to the Nintendo Wii Fit and may be using this system at home with minimal supervision," she said.

"This simple, popular intervention represents a plausible method to support children's motor and psychosocial development."

DCD is believed to affect 5% to 6% of children who are school aged and tends to occur more frequently in boys. It is a condition which results in a child being unable to perform everyday tasks because of a delay in the development of motor skills or difficulty co-ordinating movements.

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