Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sensory-motor disorder that affects many people, especially those with multiple sclerosis (MS). Exergaming, also known as active gaming or exerplay, is a type of physical activity that involves playing video games while exercising.
Unlike traditional video games that involve sedentary gameplay, exergaming combines gameplay with physical exercises, such as dance or sports. Exergaming may be an effective non-pharmacological therapy for improving symptoms of MS, such as balance, walking, fatigue, and cognitive functions.
Researchers investigated the effects of exergaming on RLS symptoms in MS patients. Thirty-one MS patients with RLS and thirty-four MS patients without RLS were randomly divided into an exergaming group and a control group. The researchers assessed various outcome measures, including RLS severity, fatigue impact, walking scale, anxiety and depression, physical activity, sleep quality, and quality of life.
After eight weeks of exergaming training, the researchers found that the RLS severity, anxiety level, sleep quality, walking, and balance functions improved significantly in the MS patients with RLS who participated in the exergaming group. In contrast, RLS severity increased in the control group. At the 8-week follow-up, the benefits of exergaming on RLS symptoms, quality of life, sleep quality, and walking capacity were still present. The exergaming group of MS patients without RLS showed significant improvement in gait and balance functions but lost the benefits after eight weeks of follow-up.
Exergaming could be an effective non-pharmacological therapy for managing RLS severity, anxiety, sleep quality, gait, balance, and quality of life in MS patients with RLS. However, more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of exergaming on RLS symptoms and other aspects of MS. Exergaming may be a cost-effective and easily accessible therapy for MS patients with RLS who may find it challenging to engage in traditional forms of physical activity due to their symptoms.