To treat grandma’s incontinence, buy a video game that makes her dance

Let the good times roll.
Let the good times roll.
Image: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Dancing could help older women fight urinary incontinence, and it seems that video games are the best way to get them moving. A regimen of dance-based video games, a new study shows, could be a cheap and fun form of physiotherapy.

In a study published in Neurology and Urodynamics, Canadian and Swiss researchers added dance exercises via video game to the treatment plan for women suffering from urinary incontinence, which affects more than 1 in 4 women of all ages, and grows most common between the ages of 70 and 80. The idea was to improve the women’s pelvic floor muscle strength.

Sure enough, women who were dancing after their weekly therapy showed greater bladder control than those undergoing traditional exercises alone. They were also more likely to stick with the program.

“Our challenge was to motivate women to show up each week,” researcher Chantal Dumoulin said. “We quickly learned that the dance component was the part that the women found most fun and didn’t want to miss. The socialization aspect shouldn’t be ignored either: they laughed a lot as they danced!”

The video game aspect is probably unrelated to the success of the study, but it’s certainly a more cost-effective choice than daily dance class attendance. The study didn’t use a commercially available game, though the software used bears a striking resemblance to Dance Dance Revolution.