Games for Physical Therapy

  • Sep 20, 2012
  • 1 Comment

I have spent a lot of this week looking at the previous work done using Looking Glass for the purpose of physical therapy.   I gained a lot of valuable insight in to the challenges associated with using the games for physical therapy.

A few key takeaways: 

  • Visually seeing success and progress is very possible using game log data and should be exposed to the player in order to encourage them.  Additionally, goal setting can help players to maintain motivation and feel more in control of the rehabilitation process.  Both of these are key features that I will need to support.
  • Competitive scoring between a patient and a caregiver tends to be discouraging and awkard, and should be avoided.  On the other hand, collaborative games promote social interaction and can help provide an emotional break from being dependent on a caregiver.  This helps to shape what kind of games I should focus on supporting.
  • Random events are common in many games.  However, in therapeutic games, it makes more sense to bias the random events to encourage movement through the player's entire range of motion.  I will need to keep this in mind, and make it easily manageable by the game creator.


One of the goals of creating the games in Looking Glass is for the purpose of physical therapy for cerebral palsy pateints.  For this reason, I have looked into physical therapy methods for cerebral palsy since that is the current vision for these games.  It appears that the physical therapy for CP has a lot in common with the physical therapy for a stroke in that it requires a lot of repetition of the same actions to see improvement.  One area that is different is that CP patients tend to have generally tight muscles, so stretching plays a more imporant role.  Hopefully, with the Kinect's pose matching ability, we will be able to address this need as well.

After reading the study done at Rutgers on video games for CP rehabilitation, I am encouraged that this type of physical therapy can be done successfully.  It also reinforced the idea that the theme of the game is very important to keeping the user engaged and motivated.  Easy custom theming will be one of the areas I focus on.


Looking Glass Stroke Therapy Papers:


Rutgers Cerebal Palsy Study:


  • kyle

    kyle said:

    <p>Hey, this is great that you are reading about the previous work... and then thinking about what it means for your project!</p>

    Posted on Sep 21, 2012

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