Danish researchers have developed a new game system to aid the rehabilitation of patients after illness and surgery.

The idea for the game came after physiotherapists in the Funen Hospital in Denmark realised that patients needed a new way to help them get more mobile after lengthy periods in hospital beds.

“We needed to develop a new tool to rehabilitate patients and get them into activity, Patients who have had illnesses or surgery need to exercise to regain their fitness, and they need follow-up from a physiotherapist to ensure that they do the movements correctly. But the physiotherapist cannot be everywhere all the time,” said Tonny Jæger from Funen Hospital in Fyn, Denmark.

Jæger and his research team thought about the best way of doing this, and after many ideas, they used inspiration from the Nintendo Wii games console to create a game that would inspire patients to try to move.

They have created an “intelligent” mat, which consists of lightweight tiles. It is easy to lay this mat on the floor and attach it to the wall. It emits light signals to show where patients should press — or tramp — to activate the muscle groups.

Jæger said: “The idea is to combine play and training and get users to activate their whole body, not just their legs, as with other types of training mats. If you can use games to get young people moving, could the same approach work for rehabilitation patients as well?”

The mat emits light signals showing where patients should put their foot or press with their hands. The lights also change colour when they detect that the patient is applying more pressure to the light signal.

“We add to the fun for patients by introducing competition in the training. We will develop this further so that it becomes easier for patients to use, but we can see that this is good exercise for fitness, balance and coordination.” said Jæger.

The mat records all the patient’s movements, and the physiotherapist receives this information to guide patients in what they should do during the next session.

The system has been through successful tests and generated much interest when demonstrated at the Tromsø Telemedicine and eHealth Conference 2007 lin June.

Work continues on developing the system following the successful field trial in Funen Hospital, but no release date is yet available for the game.


Field trial results (Danish only)