Sometimes game playing can actually serve as a creative therapy. This appears to be the case for a group of seniors at Rice University who have developed a digital device that helps children with cerebral palsy to become stronger through game playing.
The device is called “Dino-Might” and it’s a simple computer game. The user needs to move the animated dinosaur up or down through a path, and while doing so, they send vital information to the doctor monitoring them. As Jessica Joyce, part of the team called Helping Hands that developed the device, said, It’s a game, essentially, but one that’s connected to eight strength gauges. By playing the game, the child is telling us how strong she is and how well she can use her wrist and hand. With the game as an incentive, we’re learning the patient’s strong points, keeping a record of them and making them stronger at the same time.”
The device was originally developed by the Helping Hands group under the direction of Dr. Gloria Gogola (a pediatric hand and upper-extremity surgeon at Houston’s Shriners Hospitals for Children). Its purpose is to correct spastic wrist flexion deformity, which is a condition often seen in cerebral palsy patients that limits the wrist movement.
So far, the device has been used on three patients in Dr. Gogola’s clinic. As Jenna Desmarais, a senior at Rice majoring in mechanical engineering, said, “Every time the device is used on a new patient, it’s adjusted and customized to fit that individual child. The information we’re giving Dr. Gogola is accurate for that specific patient. The doctor isn’t getting a general idea but a precise picture of that boy or girl.”
In the future, the team hopes to adjust the device for use with adults as well, particularly for those who have had strokes or spinal cord injuries.