Multiple sclerosis: Changes in microarchitecture of white matter tracts after training with a video game balance board

Luca Prosperini, Fulvia Fanelli, Nikolaos Petsas, Emilia Sbardella, Francesca Tona, Eytan Raz, Deborah Fortuna, Floriana De Angelis, Carlo Pozzilli, Patrizia Pantano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To determine if high-intensity, task-oriented, visual feedback training with a video game balance board (Nintendo Wii) induces significant changes in diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) parameters of cerebellar connections and other supratentorial associative bundles and if these changes are related to clinical improvement in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Conclusion: Despite the low statistical power (35%) due to the small sample size, the results showed that training with the balance board system modified the microstructure of superior cerebellar peduncles. The clinical improvement observed after training might be mediated by enhanced myelinationrelated processes, suggesting that high-intensity, taskoriented exercises could induce favorable microstructural changes in the brains of patients with multiple sclerosis.

Materials and Methods: The protocol was approved by local ethical committee; each participant provided written informed consent. In this 24-week, randomized, two-period crossover pilot study, 27 patients underwent static posturography and brain magnetic resonance (MR) imaging at study entry, after the first 12-week period, and at study termination. Thirteen patients started a 12-week training program followed by a 12-week period without any intervention, while 14 patients received the intervention in reverse order. Fifteen healthy subjects also underwent MR imaging once and underwent static posturography. Virtual dissection of white matter tracts was performed with streamline tractography; values of DTI parameters were then obtained for each dissected tract. Repeated measures analyses of variance were performed to evaluate whether DTI parameters significantly changed after intervention, with false discovery rate correction for multiple hypothesis testing.

Results: There were relevant differences between patients and healthy control subjects in postural sway and DTI parameters (P 2,23 range, 5.555-3.450; P = .036-.088 after false discovery rate correction). These changes correlated with objective measures of balance improvement detected at static posturography (r = 20.381 to 0.401, P <.05). However, both clinical and DTI changes did not persist beyond 12 weeks after training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-538
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Medicine(all)


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