Review article (meta-analysis)| Volume 100, ISSUE 4, P769-781, April 2019

Do Active Video Games Improve Motor Function in People With Developmental Disabilities? A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Published:November 30, 2018DOI:



      To conduct a meta-analysis to examine the effectiveness of active video games (AVGs) interventions on motor function in people with developmental disabilities.

      Data Sources

      An electronic search of 7 databases (PubMed, EbscoHost, Informit, Scopus, ScienceDirect, Proquest, PsychInfo) was conducted for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating AVGs to improve motor function in people with developmental disability, published through to May 2018.

      Study Selection

      Only articles in a peer-reviewed journal in English were selected and screened by 2 independent reviewers for RCTs that compared AVGs to conventional therapy. Twelve RCTs involving 370 people with developmental disabilities met the inclusion criteria for quantitative analysis.

      Data Extraction

      Two independent reviewers assessed risk of bias and study quality using the Egger’s R, grading of recommendation, assessment, development and evaluation, and Template for Intervention Description and Replication checklists.

      Data Synthesis

      Three meta-analyses revealed a large effect size for AVGs to improve gross motor skills (Hedges’ g=0.833, 95% confidence interval [95% CI]=0.247-1.420), small to medium effects for balance (g=0.458, 95% CI=0.023-0.948), and a small, nonsignificant effect for functional mobility (g=0.425, 95% CI= −0.03 to 0.881). Training frequency (ie, number of sessions per week) moderated the effect of AVGs on motor function in people with developmental disabilities.


      We conclude that AVGs show task-specific effectiveness for gross motor skills but the effects are moderated by training intensity. However, because of the low number of trials, diverse diagnoses, variable dosage, and multiple outcome measures of the included trials, these results need to be interpreted with caution.


      List of abbreviations:

      95% CI (95% confidence interval), AVG (active video game), BOTMP/BOT-2 (Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency), GRADE (grading of recommendation, assessment, development and evaluation), MABC-2 (Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2), PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses), RCT (randomized controlled trial), TIDieR (Template for Intervention Description and Replication)
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