Belinda Lange, Sheryl Flynn, Chien-Yen Chang, Skip Rizzo: “Development of an interactive rehabilitation game”

September 2, 2010 | Valparaiso, Chile

Speaker: Belinda Lange, Sheryl Flynn, Chien-Yen Chang, Skip Rizzo
Host: International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technologies 2010

Visual biofeedback and force plate systems are often used for treatment of balance and mobility disorders following neurological injury. Conventional Physical Therapy techniques have been shown to improve balance, mobility and gait. The training program encourages patients to transfer weight onto the impaired limb in order to improve weight shift in standing and during gait. Researchers and therapists have been exploring the use of video game consoles such as the Nintendo WiiFit as rehabilitation tools. Initial case studies have demonstrated that the use of video games has some promise for balance rehabilitation. However, initial usability studies and anecdotal evidence has indicated that the commercial games that are currently available are not necessarily suitable for the controlled, specific exercise required for therapy. Based on focus group data and observations with patients, a game has been developed to specifically target weight shift training using an open source game engine and the WiiFit balance board. The prototype underwent initial usability testing with a sample of four Physical Therapists and four patients with neurological injury or disease. Overall, feedback was positive and areas for improvement were identified. This preliminary research provides support for the development of a game that caters specifically to the key requirements of balance rehabilitation.