Brain Game: de Schakelaar
ABI patients often report having significantly more memory difficulties when compared to people without an acquired brain injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, these effects can be mitigated. Especially during the process of recovery it is imperative for the patients to participate in therapy sessions and intensive mental exercises to minimize these effects. In order to facilitate in this process of rehabilitation, we started the Brain Game project.
The Process of Recovery
Adults or infants who have a brain injury after an accident have to train as much as possible and do intensive exercises during their therapy and home. We think that games could play an important role in helping both the patients and the therapists to improve the results. The process of recovery is quite often cumbersome, due to issues related to the frustration and denial as a result from the sudden change in a person's life. By implementing brain exercises into a the format of a game, the persuasive and playful characteristics of the medium can be used to make these exercises a more pleasant experience.
During a collaboration between Siza and Yellow Riders, a game challenge was set up in order to create several concepts for therapies, exercises aimed at changing the process of recovery and making a qualitative contribution to it.
This resulted in no more than eight different game concepts. After thorough evaluation and testing by professionals, the game concept of Adriaan De Jongh was selected to develop a prototype in 2016-2017. A 6-month research started in August 2017 at the Radboud University & Donders Institute to compare the game with currently used tests. The game will be further developed based on the results of the research in 2018.
Games as Mental Exercises
The final goal is to develop a game which includes a series of mental exercises aimed at rebuilding the person's initial skills which were either damaged or lost. As it is right now, these exercises need to be performed regularly under the supervision of a therapist. The problem is that due to the intensity and repetitive nature of these mental gymnastics they are often experienced as dull and frustrating, leading to aversion from the patients. With this game, this process can be turned into an engaging and overall fun experience.
Through different forms of audiovisual and haptic input, the player is challenged to make cognitive connections, train or redevelop their motoric skills, train their memory and improve their problem solving abilities. Although this does not eliminate the need for professional support by a therapist, presenting these mental exercises through the medium of a computer game does allow the patient to perform these at home, ultimately promoting and contributing to a successful recovery. But just as important is that this game can help to reduce the amount stress and frustration, improve self-efficacy of the patients, helping them recover in a pleasant way.
Brain damage caused by an event rather than a genetic deviation is called acquired brain damage, ABI for short. ABI can have different types of impact on the person, including cognitive, physical, emotional or behavioral impairments. This can result in temporary but also permanent changes in the person's functioning or behavior.