Effects of an In-home Multicomponent Exergame Training on Physical Functions, Cognition, and Brain Volume of Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

Author: Adcock M1, Fankhauser M1, Post J1, Lutz K2, Zizlsperger L2, Luft AR2,3, Guimarães V4, Schättin A1, de Bruin ED1,5
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup>Institute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport, Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. <sup>2</sup>Cereneo, Center for Neurology and Rehabilitation, Vitznau, Switzerland. <sup>3</sup>Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. <sup>4</sup>Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, Porto, Portugal. <sup>5</sup>Division of Physiotherapy, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Conference/Journal: Front Med (Lausanne).
Date published: 2020 Jan 28
Other: Volume ID: 6 , Pages: 321 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fmed.2019.00321. eCollection 2019. , Word Count: 350

Aging is associated with a decline in physical functions, cognition and brain structure. Considering that human life is based on an inseparable physical-cognitive interplay, combined physical-cognitive training through exergames is a promising approach to counteract age-related impairments. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of an in-home multicomponent exergame training on [i] physical and cognitive functions and [ii] brain volume of older adults compared to a usual care control group. Thirty-seven healthy and independently living older adults aged 65 years and older were randomly assigned to an intervention (exergame training) or a control (usual care) group. Over 16 weeks, the participants of the intervention group absolved three home-based exergame sessions per week (à 30-40 min) including Tai Chi-inspired exercises, dancing and step-based cognitive games. The control participants continued with their normal daily living. Pre- and post-measurements included assessments of physical (gait parameters, functional muscle strength, balance, aerobic endurance) and cognitive (processing speed, short-term attention span, working memory, inhibition, mental flexibility) functions. T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging was conducted to assess brain volume. Thirty-one participants (mean age = 73.9 ± 6.4 years, range = 65-90 years, 16 female) completed the study. Inhibition and working memory significantly improved post-intervention in favor of the intervention group [inhibition: F (1) = 2.537, p = 0.046, n p 2 = 0.11, working memory: F (1) = 5.872, p = 0.015, n p 2 = 0.02]. Two measures of short-term attentional span showed improvements after training in favor of the control group [F(1) = 4.309, p = 0.038, n p 2 = 0.03, F (1) = 8.504, p = 0.004, n p 2 = 0.04]. No significant training effects were evident for physical functions or brain volume. Both groups exhibited a significant decrease in gray matter volume of frontal areas and the hippocampus over time. The findings indicate a positive influence of exergame training on executive functioning. No improvements in physical functions or brain volume were evident in this study. Better adapted individualized training challenge and a longer training period are suggested. Further studies are needed that assess training-related structural brain plasticity and its effect on performance, daily life functioning and healthy aging.

Copyright © 2020 Adcock, Fankhauser, Post, Lutz, Zizlsperger, Luft, Guimarães, Schättin and de Bruin.

KEYWORDS: brain volume; cognition; exergame; healthy aging; physical functions; physical-cognitive training

PMID: 32047751 PMCID: PMC6997483 DOI: 10.3389/fmed.2019.00321