Sunday, 13 November 2011

Game your way to healthy living

Friday, Nov 04, 2011, AsiaOne

SINGAPORE - Exercising and working your body to better health does not have to be boring, as new gaming technologies being introduced in Singapore hospitals show. Using video games and interactive technologies to improve health is fast catching on in Singapore, with The Straits Times (ST) reporting that several rehabilitation centres here have taken up offering interactive technologies alongside conventional therapies to improve conditions ranging from stroke, burn wounds to even learning difficulties.

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In the National University of Singapore (NUH), a Nintendo Wii game designed by Singapore Polytechnic students encourages stroke patients to exercise their arms by playing games such as flipping burger patties on a barbecue grill. The sweeping movements work the patients' hands and wrists and help strengthen muscles and another game, designed by Temasek Polytechnic students, gets patients to move a spaceship side to side on a screen using the Kinect to avoid getting hit by asteroids. The award-winning game does not allow patients to maneuver the spaceship using their bodies or legs, and similarly helps in the rehabilitation of arm nerves and muscles affected by a stroke.

 The Kinect and Wii are a motion-sensing gaming devices that use hand controllers to interact and play games on a screen. Therapists and rehabilitation doctors interviewed by ST say this is just the start, and there is much potential in harnessing gaming technologies for therapeutic purposes. Already, Singapore General Hospital (SGH) uses a webcam-based program called Ovogame while Changi General Hospital and TTSH use the Wii or Kinect.

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