Use of the Nintendo Wii Balance Board for Studying Standing Static Balance Control: Technical Considerations, Force-Plate Congruency, and the Effect of Battery Life

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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The Nintendo Wii Balance Board (WBB) has become popular as a low-cost alternative to research-grade force plates. The purposes of this study were to characterize a series of technical specifications for the WBB, to compare balance control metrics derived from time-varying center of pressure (COP) signals collected simultaneously from a WBB and a research-grade force plate, and to investigate the effects of battery life. Drift, linearity, hysteresis, mass accuracy, uniformity of response, and COP accuracy were assessed from a WBB. In addition, 6 participants completed an eyes-closed quiet standing task on the WBB (at 3 battery life levels) mounted on a force plate while sway was simultaneously measured by both systems. Characterization results were all associated with less than 1% error. R2 values reflecting WBB sensor linearity were > .99. Known and measured COP differences were lowest at the center of the WBB and greatest at the corners. Between-device differences in quiet stance COP summary metrics were of limited clinical significance. Lastly, battery life did not affect WBB COP accuracy, but did influence 2 of 8 quiet stance WBB parameters. This study provides general support for the WBB as a low-cost alternative to research-grade force plates for quantifying COP movement during standing.

Weaver, Ma, and Laing are with the Injury Biomechanics and Aging Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada.

Address author correspondence to Andrew C. Laing at actlaing@uwaterloo.ca.
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