PIONEERING research into how using the Nintendo Wii could help people with multiple sclerosis is being carried out in Bournemouth and Poole.

Dr Sarah Thomas, a senior research fellow at Bournemouth University’s Clinical Research Unit, is leading the three-year project which aims to see whether regular use of Wii Fit and Wii Sports can alleviate symptoms of the neurological condition.

“Our level of physical activity is low among the general population and people with MS and other chronic conditions can face many boundaries,” she explained.

“The rationale behind the study is that the Wii has lots of attributes which may be helpful for people with MS.

“They can use it in their home for 10 minutes at a time and they don’t have to dress up or wear special clothes.”

Working in collaboration with Poole Hospital and the Dorset MS Service, Dr Thomas and her team developed a piece of software called Mii VitaliSe.

“The aim of the study is to explore whether Mii-vitaliSe offers a safe and feasible way of increasing physical activity levels, vitality, quality of life, confidence and general wellbeing of people with MS,” Dr Thomas explained.

With support from staff at Poole hospital, 30 people with MS from the Bournemouth and Poole area have been trialling the programme.

“Exercise is amazing. People say if it was a drug people would be up queuing up around the block,” Dr Thomas said.

“It’s all about working together and giving people support to set their own goals and choose their own programme,” she added.

The findings of the project, which cost £155,000 to complete and has been funded by the MS Society, are due to be published at the end of the year.

The provisional findings suggest regular use of the console may help alleviate symptoms of the condition.

Dr Thomas, who will be speaking in front of thousands of people from the UK and aboard at Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS Life conference next month, said: “The preliminary findings are that people are finding that it complements their lifestyles and it seems to alleviate symptoms.”