An Overview of Serious Games in Cognitive Rehabilitation

An Overview of Serious Games in Cognitive Rehabilitation

Jorge Brandão (University of Minho, Portugal), Pedro Cunha (Minho University, Portugal), Vitor Hugo Carvalho (University of Minho, Portugal & Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal) and Filomena O. Soares (University of Minho, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9978-6.ch057

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Serious Games (SG) are an emergent field of research focused on the use of games with other purposes than mere entertainment with applications in many diverse areas. Although the term SG is becoming more and more popular, there is no current definition of the concept. Zyda (2005) was the first author to give a definition of SGs as “a mental contest, played with a computer in accordance with specific rules, that uses entertainment to further government or corporate training, education, health, public policy, and strategic communication objectives” (p. 26). Michael & Chen (2006) define SGs as “games that do not have entertainment, enjoyment or fun as their primary purpose” (p. 21). The authors classify SGs into a number of markets: military games, government games, educational games, corporate games, healthcare games, and political, religious and art games. Susi et al. gave an overview of SGs (Susi, 2005). Despite such classifications, many games could belong to more than one category and nowadays this concept is largely used in respect to computer games. The use of SG in rehabilitation has increased substantially over the past decade. By taking advantage of game technology in order to create more attractive user experiences and increasing playability, the environments and tasks simulated in the SG can be used to teach or train users in various situations (Rego, 2012). In particular, games applied in the field of neurorehabilitation are helping to improve the process of motor learning and recovery from incidents of stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neuromuscular impairment by increasing user motivation during training (Perry, 2011).

In this chapter we present a review of the state of the art and evolution of SG in cognitive rehabilitation, revealing how they can help in the process of rehabilitation, pointing several advantages of their use, presenting some relevant SG available, as well as technologies and platforms used to their development. Furthermore, it will be also addressed new ways of human interactions and several cases of success applied to cognitive rehabilitation in patients. Lastly, some research opportunities and open problems will be identified.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Interaction Technology: Refers to the techniques and tools developed and available to users to interact with the therapy devices, such as desktop monitors and head-mounted displays (HMDs), haptic interfaces, and real-time motion tracking devices.

Serious Games: Games which the main purpose is not the entertainment, but instead, promote learning and behavior changes in various areas, such business, industry, marketing, education and healthcare; they are designed to solve problems in several areas and involve challenges and rewards, using the entertainment and engagement components provided when user is playing games.

Cognitive Rehabilitation: A dynamic process with a set of treatments and programs directed to improve or recover the patient cognitive skills that have been diminished by disease or traumatic injury; this therapy focus on the patient’s reacquisition of the most independent or highest level of functioning.

Patients: Persons who need healthcare for a particular disease or condition or are under medical assistance.

Natural User Interfaces: A system by which users interact with the computer composed by input devices other than the traditional keyboard or mouse devices that do not use commands and that give the user the sense of an easier and intuitive interaction with the system, making him to learn more rapidly how to control the computer application.

Rehabilitation: A set of treatments or a plan designed to assist people on the process of recovery some or all of the patient’s physical, sensory, and mental capabilities from injury, illness, or disease to as normal a condition as possible.

Technology: Refers to the set of miscellaneous tools and technical, including equipments, modifications, arrangements and procedures developed and used by humans, in order to control and to adapt to their natural, social or inner environments.

Cognitive Skills: A term referred to the exclusive human’s ability to have brain superior functions or brain based skills such as memory, speech, logic, reasoning, auditory/visual processing and understanding of written material, processing thoughts and perceptions.

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