MIRA Rehab and a team of Manchester researchers have developed new interactive games to make fall prevention exercises more fun for seniors.
MIRA Rehab has teamed up with the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT) and the University of Manchester to develop new games that combine interactive technology with exercises designed to reduce the risk of falls among seniors. The games were tested by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust's Falls Prevention Team and its patients.
The new fall prevention program is designed to address multiple factors that contribute to falling and to increase seniors' compliance with the prescribed exercises. Falls often lead to injuries that result in loss of independence and seniors in particular are vulnerable to falls. Statisics show that a third of people over the age of 65 will suffer a fall at some point. Even though research has shown time and time again that specific types of exercises can reduce the risk of falls by at least 40 percent, many seniors find these exercises and recommended activity levels to be too challenging.
To motivate the elderly to stick with the prescribed exercises and stay active, MIRA Rehab and Manchester researchers have come up with a series of interactive games to make physical activity more engaging and fun for seniors. The games run on MIRA's software platform and use the Microsoft Kinect sensor to track players' body movements. They can be adjusted by clinicians to suit seniors' levels of ability and address some of the common obstacles the elderly face that prevent them from exercising. These include fatigue, fear of falling, pain and physical discomfort.
MIRA's new games challenge seniors to perform exercises like squats or leg lifts to control objects on the TV or PC screen, which makes the exercise more compelling. The software also records the frequency and duration of gameplay, providing medical staff with reports on seniors' effort and progress.
The software was developed in collaboration with physical therapists and older people to ensure that it was fun and easy to use for those who have never played computer games. MIRA has so far received very positive feedback from seniors who tested the technology.
The new software currently includes three games and four exercises. The first stage of development was funded by CMFT Charitable Funds for Innovation and the University of Manchester, and supported by Manchester Integrating Medicine & Innovative Technology (MIMIT) and Trustech.