Many patients requires a high frequency of physical exercises in order to maintain or improve physical skills, which in turn have a direct impact general heatlh and well being. Exercises can be considered boring and can be time consuming, many patients with long term conditions have endured many hours of physiotherapy and therefore alternatives are always looked for in order to keep the exercise task interesting and engaging. With technology emerging in most areas of life it is only to be expected that opportunities to exercise and perform therapeutic routines have been created using such technology. Motion controllers have been developed for gamers playing console games but also lend themselves to use in the development of therapy specific exercise software application. The term gamification has been coined as the incorporation of gaming within therapeutic exercise to make it more fun and engaging.
Motion controllers have been about in the gaming world for a long while now, with the early use of webcams offering basic movement control, followed by the Nintendo Wii with its hand held bluetooth controllers and more recently with depth perception cameras such as those used by Microsoft for its Xbox console. The Microsoft camera can be used with Windows allowing developers to work on bespoke software that moves away from recreational gaming and more towards gaming to motivate movement and exercise. There are advantaged to this type of software over other motion controllers mentioned, with the main one being the ability to present numerical outcomes of the exercises that are being performed e.g. speed of limb movement; time spent at rest; range of movement performed; space occupied by movement; acceleration of movement performed etc. The ability to report progress takes the motion controlled gaming from a recreational tool that therapists can use within therapy to a treatment that can be adjusted to meet the client or patients individual needs. As therapists there are many methods of motivating movement and so technology does not provide the golden ticket to success. Reasons why the method may not be successful as a treatment include patients not liking technology, the method requires equipment and software that is not only costly but requires setting up and the therapist to be familiar with its use.
The ability to report progress takes the motion controlled gaming from a recreational tool that therapists can use within therapy to a treatment that can be adjusted to meet the client or patients individual needs.
Advantages to this technology are 2 fold. Firstly it creates a modern approach to making so say ‘boring’ exercises interesting. Secondly it presents a more cost effective way of supporting exercise remotely. Once set up many therapeutic software programmes can be used as ‘telerehab’ whereby the patient performs the exercises on the program in their home and it is monitored and amended by the therapist remotely. This has been proven to save many hours of 1:1 patient/therapist time, saving time and costing less, whilst still allowing the therapist to be involved in the patients exercise program.
The standard setup requires a windows pc/laptop; a Kinect V2 camera; television; software. Software options are still limited and can be costly for subscription or outright purchase. Some examples of the software include: SeeMe Rehabilitation; MIRA rehab; Virtual Rehab; Jintronic; SaeboVR; MindMotion; Reflexion Health; Neumimics; Rehabtics plus more unknown to the author.
There are free ways to set up motion control within therapy but they often require basic programming skills and are more complex to set up that the software packages above. Many of the above applications offer demos that can be used for a short period of time to allow for familisation and consideration.
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"The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein."