The purpose of this study was to develop an exercise video game for children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) to keep them physically active. They developed this video game with the help of medical professionals, game designers, computer scientists, kinesiologists, physical therapists and eight children with CP. The game combines a physical platform to allow pedaling motion by the children, an Xbox 360 controller, and algorithms to take input from the user pedaling to make the gaming experience smoother. Gaming systems like this allow children with CP to exercise while having fun – they mentioned that most other research studies in this area are heavily focused on rehabilitation therapy, and not many are focused on maintaining physical fitness (which is equally as important). Their game also allowed for playing with other children over a network, providing social contact – and the game can be installed and played at home without occupying too much space.
Their resulting design was highly successful – and seven of eight children could play unassisted using the final version. The children were able to exercise at levels that would lead to health benefits. One of the main things they discovered was that it is really difficult to predict the needs and preferences of children with CP if you don’t have the condition – designs that they expected to work at first were quite unsuccessful. After several iterations and designs, they ended up settling on a racer chair where the arm rests are flush with the seats.
Overall, I really liked this paper. I really enjoyed their approach, their iterative design process, and I feel like they gave us an end to end picture of their research. It was also very smart of them to focus on an area that was lacking (maintaining physical fitness), as some of the problems of people with CP is as a result of lack of use of the muscle groups. Maintaining physical fitness will certainly help to keep their muscles active, and help them live easier lives.