Posts Tagged rehabilitation programs

[Thesis] Serious Games for Health Rehabilitation

FACULDADE DE ENGENHARIA DA UNIVERSIDADE DO PORTO
Serious Games for Health Rehabilitation
Paula Alexandra Carvalho de Sousa Rego

Abstract
Serious Games are growing into a significant area spurred by the growth in the use of video games and of new methods for their development. They have important applications in several distinct areas such as: military, health, government, and education. As such, their purpose is to be used for other purposes than pure entertainment, which is normally associated with the concept of game. The interest for Serious Games arises from the fact that games have a set of features that makes them very effective to engage users and keep their motivation at higher levels.

From the above discussion, the design of computer games can offer valuable contributions to develop effective games in the rehabilitation area. In rehabilitation programs, one of the major problems reported are related to the motivation and engagement of patients in the exercises training sessions using traditional therapy approaches. Patients rapidly lose their interest and get bored doing the, usually repetitive, rehabilitation tasks.

This thesis addresses Serious Games for Health Rehabilitation (SGHR), and provides an indepth study and survey of the existent games and features. With this study we were able to devise a taxonomy that enables researchers and practitioners to use a systematic approach to study, classify and compare SGHR. This taxonomy is validated by a set of experts in the interrelated domain of knowledge. The research led us to identify and propose several important features and guidelines to include in SGHR. As a result, we propose, discuss and describe a framework for the development of serious games. The framework integrates a set of features of natural and multimodal interaction, social interaction (collaboration and competitiveness) and progress monitoring, which can be used to increase the motivation of the patients during the rehabilitation process.

To validate the proposed framework and features, a set of serious games were developed. These games are intended to be used in rehabilitation sessions, and their main goal is to increase the users’ motivation during the rehabilitation process. The developed games were designed based on well established rehabilitation systems and rehabilitation tasks. We describe the design and implementation of the games with respect to our proposed framework. The resulting game platform includes a set of features, such as competitiveness, collaboration and handicap mechanisms, with the aim of promoting the engagement and motivation of the patients involved in the rehabilitation process. The resulting system is a Web platform that enables games to be played online, making it more accessible to all users, including patients in rehabilitation. Besides that, the web platform provides a low cost solution to patients training and enables home rehabilitation, in addition to traditional therapy.

Final experiments were performed in order to validate the proposed framework and provide scientific evidence that it is possible to use serious games for health rehabilitation to increase the motivation of users. Experiments were conducted with healthy people and elderly users. The scores achieved in all the tests used were quite good with emphasis for the very good SUS and IMI scores achieved.

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