The aim of this paper was to investigate the effect of commercial video games (VGs) in physical rehabilitation of motor functions. Several databases were screened (Medline, SAGE Journals Online, and ScienceDirect) using combinations of the following free-text terms: commercial games, video games, exergames, serious gaming, rehabilitation games, PlayStation, Nintendo, Wii, Wii Fit, Xbox, and Kinect. The search was limited to peer-reviewed English journals. The beginning of the search time frame was not restricted and the end of the search time frame was 31 December 2015. Only randomized controlled trial, cohort, and observational studies evaluating the effect of VGs on physical rehabilitation were included in the review. A total of 4728 abstracts were screened, 275 were fully reviewed, and 126 papers were eventually included. The following information was extracted from the selected studies: device type, number and type of patients, intervention, and main outcomes. The integration of VGs into physical rehabilitation has been tested for various pathological conditions, including stroke, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, balance training, weight loss, and aging. There was large variability in the protocols used (e.g. number of sessions, intervention duration, outcome measures, and sample size). The results of this review show that in most cases, the introduction of VG training in physical rehabilitation offered similar results as conventional therapy. Therefore, VGs could be added as an adjunct treatment in rehabilitation for various pathologies to stimulate patient motivation. VGs could also be used at home to maintain rehabilitation benefits.
Physical rehabilitation (PR) is a long and difficult process that may be hindered by many difficulties. Clinicians might encounter patients with counterproductive conditions during the PR program, such as poor motivation, limited time to perform rehabilitation exercises, financial issues, and difficulties reaching the PR location. Over the last few years, the user experience in video games (VGs) has changed from passive (i.e. a relatively passive player is seated with the controller in one hand) to active (i.e. the VG software tracks real physical displacement of the player’s body parts to control the game) participation. Such active game control requires a higher level of physical activity (Taylor et al., 2011). The integration of commercial VGs into conventional PR started about a decade ago, and several articles have reported integrating VGs with PR schemes. However, little is known about the real clinical efficacy of such integration. The evidence thus far is limited to a positive effect of VGs on PR motivation and engagement (Lohse et al., 2013). It is also important to define the limits of such interventions. The overall aim of this paper was to provide an overview of the scientific evidence from previously published studies related to the use of VGs in PR schemes and, more specifically, to determine in which clinical fields (e.g. neurology, orthopedic) and for what kind of patients (e.g. stroke, multiple sclerosis) VG research is being performed. The clinical efficacy of VGs on PR for various pathologies will also be discussed.