UbiTheraPlay is a collaboration, Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) project with Kingston University in London, Kathmandu University in Nepal and University of Malaya in Malaysia. The purpose is in developing a new addition in exergames which aims to enhance motor and motor-visual ability through therapy. The exergame developed called Runner-X, uses colourful, cartoon style visuals and making use of the Balance Board to encourage left and right body movements. This exergame will be used in the Self-help Group of Cerebral Palsy in Nepal and University of Malaya Medical Centre in Malaysia for the children to improve their living conditions and confidence on learning new things by improving the body balancing techniques.
The importance of Play amongst children cannot be overstated. Playing is an activity that children are usually inclined to partake in, and it usually comes in different activity such as Games. Thus, engaging in playful activities can be a useful form of therapy for the children with the Cerebral Palsy. It is a widely shared view that when you utilize games as a form of therapy for children, it serves as an effective motivator. This provides a necessary background as to the importance of the UbiTheraPlay Project. Which is primarily concerned with the development of specialized video games that can serve as a vital assistance to therapist in their continued care for children with the neurological disorder that is Cerebral Palsy.
UbiTheraPlay currently offers three specialised games.
This game controls a walking character moving from side to side, encouraging left and right leaning movements, with the objectives of dynamic accuracy and static stability.
Exermaze is a two-dimensional maze game. The objective is to travel around the maze collecting all the tokens before exiting. This game develops four directional lean movements and pressure control - left, right, forward, and back.
This is a space travel game with the goal to collect gems while avoiding obstacles and picking up performance enhancing bonuses. This game develops left and right leaning movements and pressure control in a dynamic setting.
The UbiTheraPlay project is under the implementation phase at the Self-help Group of Cerebral Palsy (SGCP) Nepal (www.cipnepal.org), which is a non-profit based NGO, to assist their special education program (SEP). In addition, this will also be implemented at the University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC). The gaming platform we have developed in the first phase will be available to the children to improve their living conditions and confidence on learning new things by improving the body balancing techniques. The researcher assistants at the Kathmandu University Nepal will be installing the required hardware, software and display monitors at the SGCP office to observe the improvement of CP affected children for three months. The project aims to improve the living conditions by means of proposed digital gaming therapy to thirty children resides at the SGCP for special education programme.
The first benefit is to improve the lifestyle of CP affected children and make them socially engaged with other people in both Nepal and Malaysia where we implement the project. In DAC nation, e.g., Nepal, the disability is unfortunately considered to be depravity, and in many occasions, people relate it with religion. The project will impact on people’s mind that such kind of disability, e.g., Cerebral Palsy, can be moderated by means of state-of-the-art digital technologies. When this project’s outcome will be published in journals or national newspaper, people may think about computer gaming from a positive point of view.
Our primary goal is to provide a therapy avenue whereby children with cerebral palsy engage in specialized games that cater to their disability and in turn rejuvenate their mobility skills. In addition to strengthening mobility skills, this project seeks to develop social skills. This is the case whereby children with this disorder can engage amongst each other by the playing side by side at their own convenience. In doing so, this project aims to provide necessary additional knowledge to the therapists involved in providing the best possible care for children with Cerebral Palsy.
The patient or the patient’s institution requires some standard equipment and licensed access to UbiTheraPlay suite. The equipment hardware is a Nintendo Wii Balance Board and Windows PC computer or laptop (Windows 10, CPU i5 or equivalent, RAM 8GB, Bluetooth, Internet access). A large monitor (27”+) or TV is recommended.
Patients using UbiTheraPlay will generally be under the care of a professional therapist to supervise gaming and use the game data to assist their patient monitoring. UbiTheraPlay provides a custom calibration process allowing the therapist to calibrate the games to the patients’ ability to ensure maximum patient benefit and their motivation to play the games. Gameplay data can be confidentially accessed by the therapist to view game performance with customisable case reports providing clinical metrics to assess and monitor patient improvement through gameplay.