How Video Games Can Help People Suffering From Chronic Back Pain

Wii Fit U
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Oftentimes whenever video games enter into the discussion about research, reports, or talks about anything health related we almost always see studies talking about the connection between video game violence or sex and their relationship to the psychological health of the end-user. However, not every major study is all about demonizing video games. One recent study actually decided to delve deep into the physiological benefits of playing video games, and how putting in consistent amounts of game time each day can actually help, especially if you suffer from chronic back pain.

According to Scimex, recent studies have investigated how well games themed around physical fitness can actually help you with physical fitness. According to an investigative study, those who exercise with games using the Nintendo Wii Fit-U saw real improvements in dealing with lower back pain.

The study stated that those who began playing home-based video games and exercising saw a 27% reduction in lower back pain and a 23% increase in function.

The specific exercises consisted of practicing flexibility and aerobics for about an hour three times a week.

While some studies indicate that gamers should spend less time gaming, the results from this particular study suggested that using motion-based gaming could help reduce the reliance on the healthcare system.

Interestingly, the report suggests that a better way to improve lower back pain for some might be to spend a little bit of money on a game console with motion-based controls as opposed to investing in other, more expensive treatments.

This kind of report isn't necessarily surprising, though. Way back in 2006, Nintendo hit it big with casual audiences when the Wii originally released. The console introduced a lot of gaming centered around motion controls, and it ended up becoming a big hit with senior citizens and non-gamers because it actively managed to get a lot of people up and moving about.

Nintendo didn't quite manage the same success half a decade later when the Wii U released to lukewarm sales that quickly tapered off. The system had some motion-based games and mechanics, but the Wii U just didn't have enough to make it the kind of success Nintendo was hoping for. Ironically, though, the report did use the Wii U version of the fitness app that was originally present with its predecessor in the form of Wii Fit.

With the Nintendo Switch also offering the kind of motion-controlled gaming that was famous with the Wii. Given the success of the Switch, it wouldn't be surprising if the system -- especially after a price cut -- becomes popular among those with lower back pain, playing games like ARMS or Just Dance.

I imagine with more physical-fitness games joining the Switch's library, it would make it a lot more appealing to those looking for a cost-effective way to get into shape while being entertained for an hour or so. If it helps with lower back pain, then we could be seeing gaming being used a lot more often as a form of physical therapy.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.