A tangible tabletop game supporting therapy of children with Cerebral Palsy – Thoughts and Summary

Summary:

The purpose of this study was to develop a tangible table-top game supporting the rehabilitation of children with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Their aim was to provide some of the rehabilitation services provided by therapists to children affected with CP using table-top technology. They mentioned that therapists use different toys and techniques in their training sessions to do exercises like finger extensions, princer grasp, elbow extension, and supination. The experience several problems while teaching these exercises: the children were used to the same exercises and it was no longer a challenge for then, they started to compensate for their lack of movement by using their other arm/hands, they were not motivated, and since training was personal, they lacked social interaction.

The intent of their game was to design an avenue where the children could practice these same exercises while having fun, and staying motivated. They involved therapists in their design, and the therapists provided feedback which helped them to improve their design. The final game was implemented was a table-top playing surface what lit up in different LED lights, and the children had to color match several physical objects like blocks and hammers to the lights on the surface to turn them off.

Their results were mixed –  although the children enjoyed playing the game, they also experienced some of the problems the therapists experienced like compensation with their good arm, and because they were in their therapy rooms, they had some fore-knowledge of the arm movements they were supposed to make.

Thoughts:

I wish the results were more successful than they were. It seems like the children faced some of the same problems with therapists; however, the children having fun in their therapy session is certainly a step in the right direction. I feel like the paper was somewhat premature, and hoped that they would have performed some more iterations of the design before the study was published. They also mentioned that the design was an iterative and participatory process, but it wasn’t mentioned anywhere they took the design preferences of the children in the design process. It seems like they only took into account feedback from the therapists, which may vary widely from what would work very successfully for the children.

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