With innovation funding awarded by the North East Strategic Health Authority, we have contracted with a professional gaming studio (Pitbull Studio) to produce our first 10 video games. The games specifically incorporate the essential features of action video games, namely the requirement for planning, spatial orientation, eye-hand coordination, visual attention, depth perception and quick reaction times . In addition, we have identified patterns of co ordinated bimanual movements, which together form the functional bases for activities of daily living.
The design of each game incorproates into their control manouvres one or more of these patterns, with the difficulty levels systematically building up their complexity. In comparison to usual commercial games there is an increased number of difficulty levels to accommodate a wider range of abilities, from those with only limited movements of their paretic arm who need the controller strapped to their hand, up to adults with normal movement control.
Patients have been involved at all stages and our own pilot together with the evidence summarised below demonstrate that playing action video games not only increases upper limb movement control but, critical for successful therapy, these skills are translated into improved performance of activities in daily life.