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The games that could help stroke sufferers

Special computer games could help stroke sufferers recover, a University of Ulster researcher has claimed.

The Games for Rehabilitation project focuses on rehabilitation of the upper limbs and involves the player using their hands and arms to touch targets which move around the screen.

Their movements are tracked by a webcam and the game responds to their interaction, giving them positive feedback on their performance and engagement with the system.

The design of the games and interface means people do not need to have played computer or video games in order to engage effectively with the system.

Researcher James Burke, a PhD computing student, said there have been a number of studies conducted which looked at applying novel interaction technology, such as sensors and video capture, to stroke treatment with very encouraging results.

“We have taken this one step further by applying the principles of game design in order to improve user engagement. Video games offer exciting potential for rehabilitation — gamers know just how engaging video games can be,” he said.

“The team is working on realising this potential for engagement and applying it to stroke rehabilitation where patients often struggle to engage with therapy due to its mundane and repetitive nature.”

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Initial feedback from the trials has been very positive, said Dr Michael McNeill from the School of Computing and Information Engineering.

“We have had several people with varying levels of impairment playing the games, some with very restricted movement, and all have been able to play the games well. Participants expressed enjoyment from playing the games and some were keen to get a copy of the games to play at home,” he said.

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