London: Researchers have developed a new video game that will enable those recovering from stroke to engage and play together with healthy volunteers, and help boost their rehabilitation.
Balloon Buddies is designed to stimulate the playing field by allowing healthy participants to support the less- abled player.
The study, published in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation (JNER), shows that this type of collaboration makes it more rewarding for the less-abled partner.
Researchers from the Imperial College London in the UK trialled Balloon Buddies by getting patients to play it on their own in single player mode and then partnered with healthy volunteers during dual player gameplay.
They found 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.
The findings suggest that by increasing engagement with healthy volunteers, compared to playing alone, patients may be more likely to increase the effort they put into training, which could ultimately lead to greater gains in physical performance.
The researchers believe that this form of rehabilitation through gaming may be beneficial to patients recovering from other illnesses such as musculoskeletal injuries, arthritis, and cerebral palsy.
"We developed the Balloon Buddy game to enable patients to train with their friends, family or caregivers in a collaborative and playful manner," said lead author of the study Michael Mace, from the Imperial College London.
"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 said.