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GDC08: PD Wii - Wiihabilitation For Parkinson's Desease Patients

Via: GDC 2008 - Serious Games Summit Sessions

Serious Games Summit Session - PDwii: Using Novel Interfaces to Promote Physical Rehabilitation & Achieve Quantifiable Results

Speaker(s): Bob Hone & Wolf Schuster (Red Hill Studios)

This session demonstrates the technical feasibility, therapeutic effectiveness, and safety of an innovative computer-based training program aimed at developing stronger gait and balance for patients with Parkinson's Disease.

PDwii is currently being developed by Red Hill Studios and the UCSF School of Nursing, with funding by the NIH. Quantifiable results are being used to track patient progress and are being integrated into the patient's overall regime. Results will be used to benefit further innovations in the field of games for health.

The Game Background

Late December 2007, Red Hill Studios announced that it has been awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a computer-based training program for patients with Parkinson’s Disease, in collaboration with the Department of Physiological Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

The program will utilize on-screen activities and games that patients interact with through a responsive physical controller, such as the popular Nintendo Wii Remote, that senses the patient’s movement in great detail. The computer-based training program will combine the ability to recognize gestures and movement with a customized computer software program that encourages patients as they train.

The program will provide feedback on specific physical issues faced by patients with PD, for example, decreased amplitude of movement when performing a repeated act.

PD is characterized by tremor, rigidity, and postural instability. Many patients find it difficult to perform simultaneous and sequential tasks like walking while carrying something or talking to another person. There is no known cure for PD, but health care providers recommend regular exercise for maintaining mobility, flexibility, balance and a range of motion. This training program will assist in making this possible for sufferers.

“This project combines Red Hill Studios’ expertise in producing innovative software with UCSF’s extensive experience developing therapeutic programs for people with PD. If successful, this type of program could fundamentally change the way rehabilitation programs are developed and dramatically improve the lives of millions of people,” said Robert Hone, Creative Director of Red Hill Studios.

“This project will be the first interactive program specifically designed to address gait and balance issues in people with PD. Customized game environments and activities based on each individual player’s needs should help to sustain motivation to participate over the long term.

Parkinson’s Disease currently affects about 1 million people in the United States. Most people begin to develop Parkinson’s symptoms in their late 50s or early 60s, although it can occur in younger people. By the year 2050, PD will likely affect more than 6 million individuals in the United States.

Activities will be based on an existing training program developed at UCSF that has proven to be effective in improving gait and balance in patients with PD.

Red Hill Studios is an award winning educational multimedia developer located in Larkspur, CA creating interactive learning experiences, and games and videos for online, museums, and television.