Archive for category Video Games/Exergames

[Abstract] Virtual reality for stroke rehabilitation – Review


Virtual reality and interactive video gaming have emerged as recent treatment approaches in stroke rehabilitation with commercial gaming consoles in particular, being rapidly adopted in clinical settings. This is an update of a Cochrane Review published first in 2011 and then again in 2015.

Primary objective: to determine the efficacy of virtual reality compared with an alternative intervention or no intervention on upper limb function and activity.Secondary objectives: to determine the efficacy of virtual reality compared with an alternative intervention or no intervention on: gait and balance, global motor function, cognitive function, activity limitation, participation restriction, quality of life, and adverse events.

We searched the Cochrane Stroke Group Trials Register (April 2017), CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, and seven additional databases. We also searched trials registries and reference lists.

Randomised and quasi-randomised trials of virtual reality (“an advanced form of human-computer interface that allows the user to ‘interact’ with and become ‘immersed’ in a computer-generated environment in a naturalistic fashion”) in adults after stroke. The primary outcome of interest was upper limb function and activity. Secondary outcomes included gait and balance and global motor function.

Two review authors independently selected trials based on pre-defined inclusion criteria, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias. A third review author moderated disagreements when required. The review authors contacted investigators to obtain missing information.

We included 72 trials that involved 2470 participants. This review includes 35 new studies in addition to the studies included in the previous version of this review. Study sample sizes were generally small and interventions varied in terms of both the goals of treatment and the virtual reality devices used. The risk of bias present in many studies was unclear due to poor reporting. Thus, while there are a large number of randomised controlled trials, the evidence remains mostly low quality when rated using the GRADE system. Control groups usually received no intervention or therapy based on a standard-care approach.

results were not statistically significant for upper limb function (standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.07, 95% confidence intervals (CI) -0.05 to 0.20, 22 studies, 1038 participants, low-quality evidence) when comparing virtual reality to conventional therapy. However, when virtual reality was used in addition to usual care (providing a higher dose of therapy for those in the intervention group) there was a statistically significant difference between groups (SMD 0.49, 0.21 to 0.77, 10 studies, 210 participants, low-quality evidence).

when compared to conventional therapy approaches there were no statistically significant effects for gait speed or balance. Results were statistically significant for the activities of daily living (ADL) outcome (SMD 0.25, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.43, 10 studies, 466 participants, moderate-quality evidence); however, we were unable to pool results for cognitive function, participation restriction, or quality of life. Twenty-three studies reported that they monitored for adverse events; across these studies there were few adverse events and those reported were relatively mild.

We found evidence that the use of virtual reality and interactive video gaming was not more beneficial than conventional therapy approaches in improving upper limb function. Virtual reality may be beneficial in improving upper limb function and activities of daily living function when used as an adjunct to usual care (to increase overall therapy time). There was insufficient evidence to reach conclusions about the effect of virtual reality and interactive video gaming on gait speed, balance, participation, or quality of life. This review found that time since onset of stroke, severity of impairment, and the type of device (commercial or customised) were not strong influencers of outcome. There was a trend suggesting that higher dose (more than 15 hours of total intervention) was preferable as were customised virtual reality programs; however, these findings were not statistically significant.

Update of
Virtual reality for stroke rehabilitation. [Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015]

via Virtual reality for stroke rehabilitation. – PubMed – NCBI


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[Abstract] Active exergames to improve cognitive functioning in neurological disabilities: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Exergames represent a way to perform physical activity through active video games, serving as potentially useful tool in the field of neurorehabilitation. However, little is known regarding the possible role of exergames in improving cognitive functions in persons suffering from neurological disabilities.A search for relevant articles was carried out on PubMed/Medline, Scopus, PEDro, and Google Scholar. Only randomized controlled studies and non-randomized but controlled studies were retained. The following additional inclusion criteria were applied: studies focused on physical activity interventions carried out by means of exergames; populations targeted were affected by neurological disabilities; and reported results were related to cognitive outcomes. We calculated standardized mean differences (SMD) and pooled results using a random effects meta-analysis.Of 520 abstracts screened, thirteen studies met the criteria to be included yielding a total of 465 participants, 233 randomized to exergames, and 232 allocated to the alternative or no intervention. The included studies varied in terms of studied populations (e.g., multiple sclerosis, post-stroke hemiparesis, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, dyslexia, Down syndrome), type and duration of interventions, and cognitive outcome measures. Exergames significantly improved executive functions (SMD=0.53, p=0.005; 8 studies, n=380) and visuo-spatial perception (SMD=0.65, p<0.0001; 5 studies, n=209) when compared to the alternative or no intervention. There were no significant differences for attention (SMD=0.57, p=0.07; 7 studies, n=250) and global cognition (SMD=0.05, p=0.80; 6 studies, n=161).Exergames are a highly-flexible tool for rehabilitation of both cognitive and motor functions in adult populations suffering from various neurological disabilities and developmental neurological disorders. Additional high-quality clinical trials with larger samples and more specific cognitive outcomes are needed to corroborate these preliminary findings.Exergames could be considered either as a supplemental treatment to conventional rehabilitation, or as strategy to extend benefits of conventional programs at home.

via Active exergames to improve cognitive functioning in neurological disabilities: a systematic… – Abstract – Europe PMC

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Movement Therapy of the Upper Extremities with a Robotic Ball in Stroke Patients: Results of a Randomized Controlled Crossover Study – Full Text


Background Stroke is associated with motor impairments of the upper extremities. The defining goal of rehabilitation is independent execution of activities of daily living. New therapy procedures use different hardware components to implement digital therapy contents. These can be useful complements to established therapy protocols.

Objectives The aim of this study was to examine the effect of movement therapy with a robotic ball on motor function parameters in stroke patients.

Materials and Methods 25 patients (60.0±10.0 years, 172.5±13.8 cm, 79.5±13.8 kg, 89.8±72.6 months post-stroke) took part in this crossover study. The intervention and control periods comprised 12 weeks each. Training with the robotic ball was done in addition to standard therapy two times a week for 45 min each. Different game activities were carried out with the help of a tablet and a smartphone.

Results Isometric grip strength improved by 4.5±3.6 kg (p=0.000), and unilateral dexterity increased by 7.5±6.3 successful tries (p=0.000) in the round block test. The self-reported disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand were assessed using the QuickDASH questionnaire and showed improvements by 12.4±13.0 points (p=0.001).

Conclusions Additional therapy using the robotic ball improved upper extremity motor function and self-perceived health status in chronic stroke patients. However, performance stagnated when standard therapy was implemented alone. Moderately affected patients seem to benefit the most. The presence of very severe motor or cognitive symptoms led, in part, to some dropouts. The results need to be verified using larger patient populations.


In Germany, up to 75% of the approx. 196,000 initial and 66,000 repeated strokes are survived [1] [2] [3] [4]. For the affected patients, it is often the trigger for persistent physical limitations, which in 85% of the cases are manifested by the cardinal symptom of spastic or flaccid hemiparesis of the upper extremities. Restriction or even loss of function of the hand and arm drastically impacts the daily life of the affected individual [1] [5] [6] [7]. Demographic change has increased the incidence of stroke. Improved acute care has enabled more people to survive the event, resulting in a greater number of patients and a growing demand for therapy [1] [2] [6]. Reduced range of motion, pain, sensory disturbances and increased muscle tone are characteristic patient symptoms [8] [9]. Loss of arm function is the consequence in about half of stroke cases [8], unlike rehabilitation of independent mobility, which can be achieved in up to 85% of patients [10]. Consequently, relatively less time is devoted to recovery of hand and arm function [11]. In addition to effects on motor function there are often psychological and social consequences [12]. A variety of physical activity measures should contribute to the compensation and restoration of skills and abilities [13] [14]. Since it is still possible to make progress even weeks after a stroke, it is imperative to develop more effective therapeutic methods, especially in the case of sustained loss of upper extremity function [8]. Thus the severity and location of the cerebral insult as well as comorbidities are decisive for the further rehabilitation process [15] [16]. The success of Constraint-induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) [7] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] demonstrates the necessity and possible benefit of using the upper extremities during training and everyday life.

In this context as well as due to innovative developments in technology-supported concepts and components [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] in the field of stroke rehabilitation such as exergaming, [31] [32] [33] [34] the “Sphero 2.0” robotic ball was reviewed in combination with game-playing applications as a supplemental therapeutic activity [35]. The potential benefit for stroke patients regarding improving motor parameters has been documented in review articles on technology-supported therapeutic measures [36] [37]. Hardware and software components from the entertainment industry or telecommunications are used to develop new therapy activities. There are examples of the Microsoft Kinect webcam used in stroke rehabilitation [30] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] as well as for game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii [45] [46] [47], Sony Playstation [48] or Microsoft XBox [44]. In addition, smartphones [34], tablets [49] [50] [51] [52] or virtual reality goggles [53] are being used to employ generally commercially available games with potential therapeutic benefits, or to use their sensor systems for movement detection and control. Therapeutic content can be found in commercial video games such as Wii Sports [54] or Kinect Sports [44] as well as games programmed specifically for therapeutic applications [42] [55]. Their common element is the required use of the affected body half to achieve the respective game objective. The activity can reflect daily activities such as grasping and moving a glass [56], cooking [38], or striking selected piano keys [38] [49]. […]

Continue —> Thieme E-Journals – Neurology International Open / Full Text

Fig. 2 The “Sphero 2.0” robotic ball by Orbotix (Boulder, CO, USA).

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[Abstract] Suitability of Kinect for measuring whole body movement patterns during exergaming.


Exergames provide a challenging opportunity for home-based training and evaluation of postural control in the elderly population, but affordable sensor technology and algorithms for assessment of whole body movement patterns in the home environment are yet to be developed.

The aim of the present study was to evaluate the use of Kinect, a commonly available video game sensor, for capturing and analyzing whole body movement patterns.

Healthy adults (n=20) played a weight shifting exergame under five different conditions with varying amplitudes and speed of sway movement, while 3D positions of ten body segments were recorded in the frontal plane using Kinect and a Vicon 3D camera system. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to extract and compare movement patterns and the variance in individual body segment positions explained by these patterns. Using the identified patterns, balance outcome measures based on spatiotemporal sway characteristics were computed.

The results showed that both Vicon and Kinect capture >90% variance of all body segment movements within three PCs. Kinect-derived movement patterns were found to explain variance in trunk movements accurately, yet explained variance in hand and foot segments was underestimated and overestimated respectively by as much as 30%. Differences between both systems with respect to balance outcome measures range 0.3–64.3%.

The results imply that Kinect provides the unique possibility of quantifying balance ability while performing complex tasks in an exergame environment.

via Suitability of Kinect for measuring whole body movement patterns during exergaming – ScienceDirect

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[Abstract] MaLT – Combined Motor and Language Therapy Tool for Brain Injury Patients Using Kinect.



The functional connectivity and structural proximity of elements of the language and motor systems result in frequent co-morbidity post brain injury. Although rehabilitation services are becoming increasingly multidisciplinary and “integrated”, treatment for language and motor functions often occurs in isolation. Thus, behavioural therapies which promote neural reorganisation do not reflect the high intersystem connectivity of the neurologically intact brain. As such, there is a pressing need for rehabilitation tools which better reflect and target the impaired cognitive networks.


The objective of this research is to develop a combined high dosage therapy tool for language and motor rehabilitation. The rehabilitation therapy tool developed, MaLT (Motor and Language Therapy), comprises a suite of computer games targeting both language and motor therapy that use the Kinect sensor as an interaction device. The games developed are intended for use in the home environment over prolonged periods of time. In order to track patients’ engagement with the games and their rehabilitation progress, the game records patient performance data for the therapist to interrogate.


MaLT incorporates Kinect-based games, a database of objects and language parameters, and a reporting tool for therapists. Games have been developed that target four major language therapy tasks involving single word comprehension, initial phoneme identification, rhyme identification and a naming task. These tasks have 8 levels each increasing in difficulty. A database of 750 objects is used to programmatically generate appropriate questions for the game, providing both targeted therapy and unique gameplay every time. The design of the games has been informed by therapists and by discussions with a Public Patient Involvement (PPI) group.


Pilot MaLT trials have been conducted with three stroke survivors for the duration of 6 to 8 weeks. Patients’ performance is monitored through MaLT’s reporting facility presented as graphs plotted from patient game data. Performance indicators include reaction time, accuracy, number of incorrect responses and hand use. The resultant games have also been tested by the PPI with a positive response and further suggestions for future modifications made.


MaLT provides a tool that innovatively combines motor and language therapy for high dosage rehabilitation in the home. It has demonstrated that motion sensor technology can be successfully combined with a language therapy task to target both upper limb and linguistic impairment in patients following brain injury. The initial studies on stroke survivors have demonstrated that the combined therapy approach is viable and the outputs of this study will inform planned larger scale future trials.



via MaLT – Combined Motor and Language Therapy Tool for Brain Injury Patients Using Kinect. – PubMed – NCBI

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[WEB SITE] Games, Gloves, and Grip: PTs Rehab Arms and Hands Post-Stroke With YouGrabber

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Playing virtual reality games could be as effective as adding extra physical therapy sessions to a stroke patient’s rehab regimen, according to researchers.

“It is not a question of choosing one thing over the other, rather of having different training alternatives to provide variation,” says Iris Brunner, author of a study, published recently in Neurology, that explored a variety of medical uses for virtual reality.

“Virtual reality cannot replace physical therapy. But it can be experienced as a game, motivating patients to do an extra treatment session,” adds Brunner, associate professor with the University of Aarhus and Hammel Neurocenter, in Denmark.

Brunner and her team’s study included 120 stroke patients with mild to severe hand weakness, all of whom were randomly assigned to add 16 hour-long therapy sessions to their routine rehabilitation over a month. One group performed physical therapy, while the other group played a virtual reality game called YouGrabber, notes a media release from HealthDay.

In the game, Brunner explains, “the patients wear gloves with sensors, and their movements are tracked by an infrared camera and transferred to a virtual arm on screen.”

“In different scenarios, they can grasp objects that come toward them or pick carrots. In other games, patients steer a plane or a car with their movement. The therapist chooses the movements to be trained and the level of difficulty.”

Fifty patients in the physical therapy group and 52 in the virtual reality group completed the study and were evaluated after 3 months.

The researchers found no difference between the two groups with regard to the improvement in their hand and arm function.

“Patients who started out with moderately to mildly impaired arm and hand motor function achieved, on average, a level of good motor function,” Brunner states, while those with severe weakness were able to use their arms to make movements.

Patients with severe hand weakness appreciated how even small movements translated to the virtual arms on screen, she adds. And even the older patients liked the virtual reality game, she notes, possibly because the graphics are simpler than those in commercial video games.

Brunner concludes by noting that larger studies are needed to understand the potential value of virtual reality as a stroke recovery treatment.

[Source: HealthDay]


via Games, Gloves, and Grip: PTs Rehab Arms and Hands Post-Stroke With YouGrabber – Rehab Managment

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[Abstract+References] Motion-Based Serious Games for Hand Assistive Rehabilitation


Cerebral Palsy, trauma, and strokes are common causes for the loss of hand movements and the decrease in muscle strength for both children and adults. Improving fine motor skills usually involves the synchronization of wrists and fingers by performing appropriate tasks and activities. This demo introduces a novel patient-centered framework for the gamification of hand therapies in order to facilitate and encourage the rehabilitation process. This framework consists of an adaptive therapy-driven 3D environment augmented with our motion-based natural user interface. An intelligent game generator is developed, which translates the patient’s gestures into navigational movements with therapy-driven goals, while adapting the level of difficulty based on the patient profile and real-time performance. A comprehensive evaluation and clinical-based assessments were conducted in a local children disability center, and highlights of the results are presented.



via Motion-Based Serious Games for Hand Assistive Rehabilitation

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[Abstract+References] A Serious Games Platform for Cognitive Rehabilitation with Preliminary Evaluation


In recent years Serious Games have evolved substantially, solving problems in diverse areas. In particular, in Cognitive Rehabilitation, Serious Games assume a relevant role. Traditional cognitive therapies are often considered repetitive and discouraging for patients and Serious Games can be used to create more dynamic rehabilitation processes, holding patients’ attention throughout the process and motivating them during their road to recovery. This paper reviews Serious Games and user interfaces in rehabilitation area and details a Serious Games platform for Cognitive Rehabilitation that includes a set of features such as: natural and multimodal user interfaces and social features (competition, collaboration, and handicapping) which can contribute to augment the motivation of patients during the rehabilitation process. The web platform was tested with healthy subjects. Results of this preliminary evaluation show the motivation and the interest of the participants by playing the games.


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[Abstract] Feasibility study of a serious game based on Kinect system for functional rehabilitation of the lower limbs



Conventional functional rehabilitation costs time, money and effort for the patients and for the medical staff. Serious games have been used as a new approach to improve the performance as well as to possibly reduce medical cost in the future for cognitive rehabilitation and body balance control. The objective of this present work was to perform a feasibility study on the use of a new real-time serious game system for improving the musculoskeletal rehabilitation of the lower limbs.

Materials and methods

A basic functional rehabilitation exercise database was established with different levels of difficulties. A 3D virtual avatar was created and scaled to represent each subject-specific body. A portable and affordable Kinect sensor was used to capture real-time kinematics during each exercise. A specific data coupling process was developed. An evaluation campaign was established to assess the developed system.


The squats exercise was the hardest challenge. Moreover, the performance of each functional rehabilitation exercise depended on the physiological profile of each participant. Our game system was clear and attractive for all functional rehabilitation exercises. All testing subjects felt motivated and secure when playing the rehabilitation game.


The comparison with other systems showed that our system was the first one focusing on the functional rehabilitation exercises of the lower limbs.


Our system showed useful functionalities for a large range of applications (rehabilitation at home, sports training). Looking forward, new in-situation exercises will be investigated for specific musculoskeletal disorders.

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[Technical note] Serious game and functional rehabilitation for the lower limbs



Conventional functional rehabilitation consists of a therapeutic consultation, a motor exercise assignment, and an execution task with or without assistance of the therapist. The objective of this technical note was to present a new real-time 3D serious game system concept for musculoskeletal rehabilitation of the lower limbs.

Materials and method

A generic development workflow of real-time 3D serious game systems for functional rehabilitation of the lower limbs was proposed. A user-friendly system flowchart was also established for a better interaction between end-users and the game system.

Result and discussion

Different system components like avatar modeling, subject registration, rehabilitation game and feedback visualization and control were detailed and their advantages and limitations were discussed.


3D serious game technologies open new perspectives for a large range of rehabilitation applications (at home or in clinic environment, sports training).

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