Motivation and engagement in physical rehabilitative therapy is very important for its impact in the improvement of the physical condition of the inpatients. However, the rather repetitive nature of rehabilitative exercises make for activities that are not intrinsically motivating, hence hindering engagement. This is aggravated in geriatric rehabilitation, where meaningful extrinsic rewards in the form of physical improvement are not apparent, given some elderly’s deteriorated physical condition and low proprioceptive skills.
This has fueled incursions into other realms (e.g. video gaming, social networking) for inspiration, methods, and tools that can alleviate the situation. We have in particular witnessed the proliferation of solutions that inspired in serious games and gamification.
In the PhySeEar project, we have designed and implemented technological interventions to help the physiotherapist of an assisted living facility to make the rehabilitative sessions more motivating and meaningful. Using a Research through Design approach, we have engaged in an iterative design process, coming up with four prototypes.
In this talk, I will present interesting observations from a design prototype that included the NAO robot from Aldebaran, a virtual version of this robot, and a Kinect sensor. I will cover general aspects of the behavior of the inpatients and the physiotherapist; In particular when they show engagement, interest, focus, control, and fun. With this talk, I hope to contribute to the ongoing discussion about the use of playfulness and gameful design to design for rich and engaging experiences.