Gamification of physiotherapy could improve patient outcomes

Patients who played gamified versions of rehabilitation exercises experienced high levels of enjoyment while achieving improved functional performance, according to a study published in JMIR Serious Games.

Rehabilitation after hip replacement surgery focuses on improving strength, but low adherence to exercises hampers recovery. In this study, researchers evaluated patient perceptions in using gamified versions of rehab exercises to provide insight into how games could improve adherence and outcomes.

This study used a cycling game platform called Fietsgame (Dutch for “cycling game”), which provided seven patients working with two physiotherapists with rehabilitation exercises and tracked progress. Patients were asked to complete six five-minute exercises and provided a survey to measure factors of presence, enjoyment, pain, exertion and technology acceptance.

Results showed 75 to 100 percent of patients highly enjoyed in all games except squat games, due to their high level of exertion. All patients found the game easy to use, believed it could be a feasible tool in improving their rehabilitation, and would like to use the game in the future. Additionally, the physiotherapists agreed the games were able to meet criteria of motor rehabilitation.

“The results suggest that Fietsgame can be used as an alternative tool to traditional motor rehabilitation for patients with hip surgery,” concluded first author Yung Ling, PhD, and colleagues. “Lunges and squats are found to be more beneficial for patients who have relatively better balance skills. A follow-up randomized controlled study will be conducted to test the effectiveness of the Fietsgame to investigate how motivating it is over a longer period of time.”