Exergaming in patients with a left ventricular assist device: a feasibility study

Yoav Hammer, Aviv A. Shaul, Binyamin Ben-Avraham, Osnat Itzhaki Ben Zadok, Yaron D. Barac, Victor Rubchevsky, Vicky Yaari, Ema Gutrov, Anna Strömberg, Leonie Klompstra, Tiny Jaarsma*, Tuvia Ben-Gal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Exercise games (exergames) have been recently proposed as a mode of facilitating physical activity in patients with chronic diseases. Although patients supported with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) benefit from physical activity, specific LVAD-related issues hinder their ability to exercise properly. The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility and safety of exergaming in LVAD-supported patients. Methods and results: Eleven LVAD-supported patients were enrolled in a 4 week exergaming programme using Nintendo Wii console with five sport games. Patients were instructed to play for 30 min a day, 5 days a week. Data on exercise capacity and exergaming were collected by using the 6 min walk test (6MWT) and a daily self-report diary, respectively. Feasibility of using the console and its safety was assessed by a semi-structured patient interview. Quality of life was assessed by the Minnesota Living with Heart failure Questionnaire (MLHFQ) and the Cantril's Ladder of Life. Safety was assessed by patient's report in interview and diary. The study group consisted of 10 male patients and 1 female patient, mean age of 67 ± 7 years, of whom 10 were supported with the HeartMate 3 LVAD for a median of 10 (interquartile range 3, 21) months. Baseline exercise capacity assessed by the 6MWT ranged from 240 to 570 m (mean 448 ± 112). After 4 weeks of exergaming, 6MWT distance increased from a mean of 448 ± 112 (evaluated in six patients) to 472 ± 113 m (P = 0.023). Patients' Cantril's Ladder of Life score improved numerically from an average of 6.13 to 7.67, as did their MLHFQ score from 45.9 ± 27 to 38.7 ± 18, with higher and lower scores, respectively, reflecting higher quality of life. No specific LVAD-related safety issues regarding exergaming were reported. Conclusions: Exergaming was found to be a safe and feasible mode for encouraging physical activity in LVAD-supported patients and carries a potential for improving exercise capacity and quality of life in these patients. Larger scale studies are warranted to further investigate the effect of exergaming in this patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-741
Number of pages4
JournalESC heart failure
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023


FundersFunder number
Swedish National Science Council2016‐01390


    • Exercise
    • Exergames
    • Heart failure
    • Left ventricular assist device
    • Six-minute walk test


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