By On September 24th, 2013

Video Games as TBI Therapy

videogameVideo game therapy using Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect-supported virtual therapy has helped people with TBI improve their balance and gait according to a study by Ksenia Ustinova, PhD and Jan Perkins, PT, PhD from Central MIchigan University. The video game therapy lasted 5-6 weeks and following participation in the training program, the participants had significant improvements in balance, gait, functional reach, coordination, dynamic stability and precision. Problems with ataxia were not effected by the video game therapy. Like the Wii games, the Kinect software allows the game to be controlled through a players movements. The therapist role in the sessions was through a Personal Instruction Avatar. The program sessions had three components: the first consisting of intersegmental and interlimb coordination and eye-hand coordination; the second part was a “skateboard” game which required the person to move along a street course while seated and the third part occurred while the person stood and “popped balloons” fired at them by an octopus.

The virtual therapy environment is similar to traditional therapy in some ways, but also benefits from involvement in the stimulus-rich environment provided by video games and the built-in reinforcement which comes from video game participation. Through video game therapy, a person can have sessions outside of the clinic environment and reap the benefits of higher frequency and duration treatment which can yield better outcomes.

The study conducted by Drs. Ustinova and Perkins supports the findings of Avi Nativ, PT, PhD, who has been using video game technology in therapy for over twenty years and developed unique applications for neuromotor training which we used at the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario (NRIO) and which Dr. Nativ continues to use and refine through NeuroGym in Ottawa, Ontario.


Click here to read the Medpage report of Dr. Ustinova’s presentation at the World Congress of Neurology:



Tag lines: Virtual therapy for TBI, Knesia Ustinova, Jan Perkins, balance therapy, gait therapy, video game therapy, Avi Nativ, NRIO,

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