The rise in exergaming in healthcare

Last year I explored the use of game like technology to help the rehabilitation of elderly patients.  The technology was developed by MIRA Rehab in partnership with researchers from the University of Manchester.

They utilize the video technology found in the Microsoft Kinect to guide users through exercises via a series of game interfaces.

“I’ve always been quite fit and tried to exercise, but as I got older I found that I could quite easily lose my balance when I turn. For me, Exergames provided a structure to encourage me to exercise more regularly. I found that as a result I could get up more easily after kneeling down. I feel healthy and positive that I’m doing something to help prevent problems that might otherwise occur,” one of the participants said.

The Manchester based researchers behind that project have recently published a meta-analysis of so called exergames to delve into their benefits for both physical and mental health, with a particular focus on the cognitive improvements such games can bring.

Gaming our way to cognitive improvement

The analysis examined 17 different randomized control trials with nearly 1,000 participants and found that exergaming had a significant impact on the cognition of the participants.  What’s more, this boost remained even when the exergamers were only compared with people also undergoing a course of physical therapy.

The boost was also seen in older participants, as well as those with conditions associated with neurocognitive impairments.  Suffice to say, the use of such games in live environments is still relatively low, and the Manchester team are set to publish findings from their work with MIRA later this year, but these initial results seem very promising indeed.