Rehabilitation of neurologic patients using serious games, from theory to practice

Bruno Bonnechère, Bart Jansen, Lubos Omelina, Serge Van Sint Jan

Onderzoeksoutput: Meeting abstract (Book)



Due to the nature and the severity of the lesions involved, neurologic rehabilitation is a long and difficult process for patients and therapists. Physical therapists must find new exercises in order to fight against patients’ demotivation. Indeed, lack of motivation is known to be one of the most frequent reasons for patients to drop out. Games are an integrated part of physiotherapy. Clinicians are now prospecting the new potential use of video games in rehabilitation mainly through testing available commercial games with patients. Physical rehabilitation must be based on active exercises, and new gaming strategies and controllers allow it. Furthermore, the game environment is obviously a major advantage to increase the patients’ motivation to perform their rehabilitation schemes. Today, the main challenge is to use such games as part of a rehabilitation program.


Because existing commercial video games are not adapted to rehabilitation and could therefore not be used by the majority of the patients, the aim of this study was to develop and test several mini-games for neurological rehabilitation. This new system has been developed in close collaboration with doctors and physiotherapists to fulfill the needs and requirements of rehabilitation.


A platform has been developed to allow games to be controlled by game controllers (e.g. Nintendo Wii Balance Board, Microsoft Xbox Kinect, accelerometers on smartphones…). This platform allows the clinicians to configure the games thanks to a unique interface. All parameters can be configured such as the visual complexity, the range of motion required to perform the games, the velocity, the initial position… This kind of interface is definitely lacking on commercial solutions and allows clinicians to configure each game for each particular patient - exactly as in conventional rehabilitation session. Several mini-games have been built on top of this platform (mini-games are better than one single game to increase patient motivation). Each of those games have a particular goal: balance, posture, coordination, strengthening, stretching…


The games have been tested with Cerebral Palsy children from slightly disabled (GMFCS I) to extremely heavily disabled (GMFCS V) and with adults after Brain Stroke both in clinics and in private practice. Regardless of the severity of the disease all patients were able to play with some of the proposed games. Level of satisfaction, motivation and enjoyment were collected and are higher than compared to traditional rehabilitation.


The proposed solution, thanks to a highly configurable interface, can be used with the vast majority of patients in rehabilitation. Future work will focus on determining which patients can benefit most of this new kind of intervention and determine whether or not there are adverse effects.


The use of serious games could help patients during neurological rehabilitation, not only to fight against demotivation, but could also induce progress through other mechanisms (cognitive aspect, double task exercises…).


Rehabilitation, neurology, new technology

Funding acknowledgements

This study is a part of the ICT4Rehab and RehabGoesHome project ( This project is funded by Innoviris (Brussels Capital Region).
Originele taal-2English
TitelProceedings of the World Congres on Physiotherapy
StatusPublished - 1 mei 2015
EvenementWorld Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress - Singapore, Singapore
Duur: 1 mei 20154 mei 2015

Publicatie series

ISSN van geprinte versie0031-9406


ConferenceWorld Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress


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