Rehabilitation Gaming

Rehabilitation Gaming

Henk Herman Nap (Stichting Smart Homes, The Netherlands) and Unai Diaz-Orueta (INGEMA, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5071-8.ch008
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Abstract

A recent innovation in rehabilitation is the use of serious gaming to train motor, cognitive, and social abilities. The main advantages of rehabilitation gaming are related to the motivation to engage in rehabilitation, the objectivity of rehabilitation measurements, and the personalization of the treatment. This chapter focuses on the use and effectiveness of serious gaming in rehabilitation and illustrates the possibilities and strengths in this new and exciting work field. Furthermore, a review of the literature and examples of rehabilitation games are presented. The state-of-the-art technologies and directions for future research are also discussed. Rehabilitation gaming has great potential for today’s and future health care, and despite the research gaps, there is increasing evidence that gaming can positively contribute to the rehabilitation and recovery process.
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Introduction

Until recently, both the media and scientists focused mainly on the negative consequences of digital gaming like aggressive behaviour (Ferguson, 2007; Anderson & Bushman, 2001). Fortunately, the tide has turned, and the focus has shifted to the positive effects of digital game play and the powerful, persuasive, and motivating elements of digital games are-aside for entertainment purposes-used for the better: training, learning, and skill acquisition. Digital games that are specifically developed for these purposes are called serious games (Boyle, Connolly, & Hainey, 2011). Serious games have an explicit and carefully thought-out educational purpose and are not intended to be played primarily for amusement (Abt, 1970). Serious games have been recognized and are employed in various fields like the military and education, but have found increasing interest from the health domain, particularly in rehabilitation, partially due to the rise of low-cost embodied gaming.

The benefits of rehabilitation can be translated into a higher quality of life for both patients and their families. In addition, rehabilitation can result in lower costs for additional health care and higher productivity as patients may return to the workforce much faster. Furthermore, health care innovations that enhance rehabilitation could increase the benefits even more. One of the latest innovations in rehabilitation is the use of serious games for cognitive, psychological, motoric, and social rehabilitation. Rehabilitation gaming is a form of mediated rehabilitation, similar to telerehabilitation which is mediated by videophone (see, Popescu, Burdea, Bouzit, & Hentz, 2000) and rehabilitation mediated by Virtual Reality (VR) (see, Difede & Hoffman, 2002; Ready, Gerardi, Backscheider, Mascaro, & Rothbaum, 2010). The main advantages of mediated rehabilitation compared to traditional rehabilitation, in particular game-based rehabilitation, are related to the motivation to engage in rehabilitation, the objectivity of rehabilitation measurements, and the personalization of the treatment.

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