Enhancing Motor Skills of People With Neurological Disfunctions through Games
A year ago, I was talking with my sister, Puneet Dhaliwal, about ways games could be used in Physical Therapy. Puneet is a highly qualified Physical Therapist specializing in Neuro-Rehabilitation and never misses a chance to find new ways to improve her craft. Inspired by this TED talk, I suggested that we collaborate to produce a small prototype project that she could use. It needed to be small enough to be completed in a weekend, but useful enough to be worth the time she spent giving her inputs. Through our discussion, we concluded that we could develop a game that was based on Gentile's Principles of Skill Acquisition.
In some people with neurological diseases, motor skills deteriorate. These can be improved through repeated practice of hand-eye movements as presented in this paper. We decided to try to emulate actions she had to perform physically over and over for affected people. The result was a very minimalistic game which presents a bull's eye which the player needs to touch with a particular hand's finger repeatedly. Initially, the bulls eye does not move. As the player regains their motor skills, their skill at the game increases.
In the next 'level', the bulls eye moves and the player needs to try to maximize their score. I built the game in Unity and put in on her iPad. Given the simplicity of the game in terms of development time, I was surprised and very pleased to know that one of her patients' motor skills improved rapidly after playing the game.
Here are a few screenshots of the game.