A novel video game that will enable patients recovering from stroke to engage and play as a form of rehabilitation has been developed.
The video game called Balloon Buddies is designed to level the playing field by allowing healthy participants to support the less abled player. The findings showed that the performance of the patient was boosted when they played with a healthy volunteer, compared to if they were playing the game on their own.
In addition, they found that the poorer a patient’s single player performance was, the greater the improvement seen when they played with another during dual-player mode. This type of collaboration makes it more rewarding for the less-abled partner, more challenging for the better partner, and overall more fun for both, as they have to continuously work together to score points, the researchers said.
“Video games are a great way of providing repetitive exercise to help patients recover from debilitating illnesses,” said lead author Michael Mace, from the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London.
The study, published in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation (JNER), suggest that this form of rehabilitation through gaming may be beneficial to patients recovering from other illnesses such as musculoskeletal injuries, arthritis and cerebral palsy.
The researchers are aiming to further develop the game alongside new multi-player concepts and show that it can be used in different settings including patients training with their therapist or with other patients, in community centres or even remotely at home.
“The technology is still being developed, but we have shown that playing jointly with another individual may lead to increased engagement and better outcomes for patients,” Mace added. Playing video games has been known to help reduce stress, boost memory in the young as well as in the elderly.