Exergames - how to make physiotherapy fun

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

Abstract

Gamification is the next big innovation in the field of rehabilitation, and makes use of remote sensors and aspects of video game design to engage patients in their rehab and make it more accessible, which in turn encourages participation and so keeps costs down.Exergames was our attempt to develop this possibility, and is a successful collaboration between The University of Manchester, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and MIRA REHAB Ltd. It lead to the development of several exergames, designed to use the Microsoft Kinect sensor, and all of which use exercises known to help prevent falls and improve function in older people.Falls are a common problem for the UK’s ever growing ageing population. Every year, around 10% of older people are treated by a doctor due to a fall and approximately 100,000 older people in Europe die from a fall related injury each year, according to 2013 data by the European Association for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion (Eurosafe).The aims of the project were to develop exergames that took into account the views of older people to ensure that the designs were appropriate, attractive and at the right level in terms of speed and difficulty. Two focus groups made up of older people were held prior to the start of the design phase of the project, and, once completed, the exergames were tested on volunteers in a clinical environment by physiotherapists in order to gain feedback.The exergames themselves were based on the FaME and Otago strength and balance exercise programme, which has been proven to reduce falls in older people. They were also built upon the clinical rehabilitation tool, MIRA. This contains a patient management component, designed for doctors and physiotherapists, and can store detailed patient files, including statistical data obtained during rehab sessions.This data is of the utmost importance, as it offers adherence statistics, which is to say, the number of exergames played, along with their frequency and duration, and progress statistics, such as the number of points scored, distance, speed, acceleration and overall activity level during the games. At the time this project began, the platform contained some exergames, mainly for upper limb rehabilitation.The feedback from the collaborators was very important, as the games were based on exercises that constitute best practice in terms of preventing falls. We also needed feedback regarding gaming and interaction preferences for older people, as they were the primary target. This challenge was easily overcome by using a natural interaction sensor, Microsoft’s Kinect, with an easy to understand intuitive interface and by creating games with a simple interface, interesting content and adapted dynamics

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalSoftware Sustainability Institute
StatePublished - 12 Feb 2015