Gamification: How Game Elements can Assist in Neurological Rehabilitation
Gamification is the use of game-design elements and principles in non-game contexts. It has been used in a variety of settings, including education, healthcare, and business.
In a physiotherapy setting these principles could include …
- Visual feedback.
- Clear goals and milestones.
- Award systems and leaderboards.
In neurological rehabilitation, gamification can be used to motivate people to engage in rehabilitation activities, track their progress, and provide feedback. (1)
Improve Cognitive or Physical Skills
There are a number of ways to gamify neurological rehabilitation. One approach is to use game-based activities that target specific cognitive or physical skills.
People with …
- Memory problems could play a game that requires them to remember specific items or sequences.
- Balance problems could play a game that requires them to walk or move through a virtual environment.
Improve Motivation and Engagement
Another approach is to use game elements, such as points, badges, and leaderboards, to track progress and provide feedback. This can help people stay motivated and engaged in their rehabilitation. (2)
People could …
- Earn points for completing rehabilitation activities and badges for reaching certain milestones.
- Compete with others on leaderboards to see who can earn the most points or reach the most milestones.
Gamification has been proven effective in improving motivation, engagement, and performance in a variety of settings. It is likely that gamification could also be effective in neurological rehabilitation.
Studies Supporting the use of Gamification in Neurological Rehabilitation
In a 2017 study by De Liu et al two randomly selected groups of people with stroke received either traditional rehabilitation or gamified rehabilitation in a virtual reality environment. The group receiving gamified rehabilitation showed greater improvements in their motor function than those receiving traditional rehabilitation. (3)
In a 2018 study by de Freitas et al two randomly selected groups of people with traumatic brain injury received either traditional rehabilitation or rehabilitation that was gamified using a computer game. The group receiving gamified rehabilitation showed greater improvements in their cognitive function than those receiving traditional rehabilitation. (4)
These studies suggest gamification may be an effective way to improve outcomes in neurological rehabilitation. However, more research is needed to determine the best ways to use gamification in this context.
- Joep Janssen, Olaf Verschuren, Willem Jan Renger, Jose Ermers, Marjolijn Ketelaar, Raymond van Ee. Gamification in Physical Therapy: More Than Using Games.
- Keith Lohse, Navid Shirzad, Alida Verster, Nicola Hodges, H F Machiel Van der Loos. Video Games and Rehabilitation: Using Design Principles to Enhance Engagement in Physical Therapy.
- De Liu, Radhika Santhanam, Jane Webster. Toward Meaningful Engagement: A Framework for Design and Research of Gamified Information Systems.
- S. De Freitas. Are Games Effective Learning Tools? A Review of Educational Games.
Author: Bilal Sheikh
Bilal is a co-owner and director of Creative Physiotherapy ltd. Bilal is a Chartered Physiotherapist with advanced skills in neurological rehabilitation and musculoskeletal injuries. He is interested in using technology to enhance rehabilitation.