Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Computer games for rehabilitation

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Martin Henschke is talking on "Serious computer games for motor rehabilitation". He discussed how computer games and game techniques are used for conditions such as Cerebral palsy. Some games are used unaltered or with specialised interface hardware, such as large controllers. However, game techniques can also be used to keep the patient entertained while making better use of the therapist's time. Martin was part of a team which won a Australian Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Association (ARATA) Soft Technology Award. He described the game Terraformers which is a first person shooter game designed for the blind.
Serious computer games developed for motor rehabilitation produce a more engaging and enjoyable method to participate in physical therapy, but lack of variation and a secondary focus on fun limit long-term appeal. Traditionally, the focus of serious games in a health context is on the rehabilitation of motor function, neglecting the often-absent or impaired sensory function of the patient. This paper discusses a series of approaches used to develop appropriate serious games for children with cerebral palsy targeted at the impaired sensory system, taking into consideration longevity of play experience, requirements from therapists or researchers, and the interface requirements of the participants themselves. Two of the games that were developed are provided as examples, including data and feedback from one child with cerebral palsy who evaluated the games for entertainment, engagement and replay value.

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