The Skating Game | Research project

Increasing therapy adherence through gaming

In partnership with the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), we’ve created a prototype to explore if gaming can enhance the appeal and efficacy of balance training exercises for the elderly. This project was part of a doctoral research. The development process was conducted in close collaboration with researchers and fall prevention experts with expertise with increasing therapy adherence.

Features of the Skating Game

Applicable in home setting: the Skategame can be conveniently used within the comfort of one’s home.
Improved engagement: the game aspect makes therapy more enjoyable, leading to higher compliance with prescribed exercises.
Data for practitioners: the game provides practitioners with valuable data, helping them identify areas for improvement in their patient’s balance and mobility.
Increasing therapy adherence - 8D Games

Can gaming increase adherence to fall prevention exercises?

Regular physical activity is crucial for the elderly to mitigate the risk of falls to the greatest extent possible. Enhanced stability and strength in their lower limbs significantly reduce the incidence of falls. This not only diminishes the potential for adverse outcomes among the elderly population but also offers considerable economic benefits by reducing healthcare expenditures at a societal level.

Research by UMCG demonstrates the positive impact on elderly balance when exercises encourage moving the center of mass to the edges of their base of support. The challenge lies in ensuring that the elderly remain engaged with these balance exercises long-term, as consistent practice leads to sustained improvement. University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) joined forces with 8D Games to investigate how gaming can contribute to increasing adherence to fall prevention excersices.

This is how we approached it

We first mapped out all the practical frameworks and requirements. Logically, a training game for use in the home must be more autonomous and simpler to start and use than a setup in a medical movement lab. In co-creation with researchers and the target group (older individuals), we selected the most suitable hardware. The gameplay also emerged in consultation with the intended end-users. We aimed for the style and activities in the game to evoke as much joy and positive associations as possible among the elderly. Simultaneously, it was crucial that the gameplay could accurately simulate the correct movements and exercises. For this purpose, a tight collaboration with specialists from UMCG was essential. A beautiful synthesis of knowledge and experiences, developing a serious game!

Case: The Skating Game | Research project

“During our study, participants engaged with the game even more than required, showcasing its effectiveness in maintaining interest.“

Mike van Diest

PhD Candidate Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Increasing therapy adherence
Design Skategame

The power-up we created

The participant positions themselves in front of a Kinect360 (infrared camera) within the comfort of their own home to perform the fall-prevention exercises. Onscreen, an environment of natural ice is depicted. The game translates the participant’s movements into lifelike skating actions. As they navigate through the game, they must maneuver around obstacles and lower themselves beneath bridges. This application of gamification principles motivates the elderly to engage more persistently in the exercises.

For therapists, a significant benefit is the Kinect’s ability to send all exercise data directly to a physician or physiotherapist. This enables the healthcare provider to analyze movement patterns, such as a preference for moving more fluidly to one side, assess overall physical condition, and more. Consequently, this allows for the customization of treatment plans to better suit the specific needs of each client.

Questions? Or looking for advice?

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Interested in healthcare related research using serious gaming?
Conducting doctoral research using serious gaming is quite an innovative and complex task. How exactly do you approach it? The webinar Healthcare, Research and Serious Gaming offers valuable practical tips. In this captivating webinar, postdoctoral researcher Lise Beumeler from Campus Fryslân – RUG and the Medical Center Leeuwarden, along with Johan van der Meulen, co-owner and Innovation Director at 8D Games, divulge essential insights regarding the testing and application of healthcare technologies. They delve into the intricacies of conducting PhD research within the healthcare domain, responding to numerous insightful queries from participants. The session was expertly facilitated by Rowan-Niels Spinder, a relationship officer at Campus Fryslân.


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