The Spanish magazine Interviu recently reported on the use of videogames for therapeutic purposes. The use of VirtualRehab to help treat patients with Multiple Sclerosis was highlighted as a successful example of this type of therapy. The article includes interviews with both patients and therapists using VirtualRehab. To see the full article in Spanish,click on the link below. Here is the translated excerpt:
Videogames for ailments
Patients with chronic diseases, brain injury and disorders begin to benefit from Virtual Reality.
Videogames are finding a space in medical treatments as therapeutic and diagnosis tools. Hospitals, professionals and technology companies are becoming more involved in the development and application of virtual games which motivate patients more than other types of therapies.
Rosa and Aurora, both diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, thought that videogames were addictive and “only for kids”. But not anymore. When they were given the option of using videogames for their rehabilitation they looked at it as a challenge and now they couldn’t do without them.
“It is more enjoyable than doing (traditional) rehabilitation with the physiotherapist; it encourages me and gives me more security and self-esteem” says Aurora. She uses the videogame solution designed by the company Virtualware that started as an initiative of Adembi (the Multiple Sclerosis Association of Vizcaya, Spain) in collaboration with Aita Menni Hospital (Brain Injury Hospital in Guipuzcoa, Spain).
Rosa can only play 20 minutes a week out of the 8 hours daily she spends at the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation in Madrid as MS patients suffer from severe fatigue. “If it were up to me I would play more because sometimes I don’t finish all the exercises in the game correctly, and I want them to start the game again so I can finish them all”.
Aurora´s therapist says that “she is an addict, in the best sense of the word, because the videogames motivate her, and encourage her to do things that without the screen in front of her she wouldn´t do as it helps her forget about her limitations”.
Patients have to reach targets with their hands, o step on tiles with their feet depending on their colour and position, and with time as they successfully reach their targets the games congratulates them with a sound.
She says she feels freer although her therapist argues “A person with MS – 40,000 in Spain alone – has a pattern of pathological movements which they tend to unlearn which makes it necessary to have rehabilitation daily” according to Laura Garcia Ruano, the physiotherapy coordinator in the Foundation.
The VirtualRehab videogames has them first improve their verticality while seated and then standing. It’s full of challenges, like any other videogame, which gets them hooked and increases their motivation.
“They force themselves to do more complicated things and to do them better. We therapists will continue to be necessary but videogames motivate them more”.
It’s this motivating factor that makes the patients work more and better.