Therapy can be tough for kids. But what if therapy could be more like a game? In developing Augment Therapy, we made it our goal to “gamify” physical therapy, and we think we’ve succeeded. But don’t take our word for it: ask the kids who’ve tried Augment Therapy.
Take for instance Vinny. He’s 7 years old and has Spastic Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy within his right foot. Completing his physiotherapy exercises is a daily struggle. This struggle has been equally hard on Vinny’s mom, and it continued until Vinny tried Augment Therapy.
Vinny signed on as one of Augment Therapy’s original beta testers. Ever since, he’s been an enthusiastic explorer of the software’s vast virtual worlds, letting the developers know what made therapy easier and what didn’t. Of the most recent trial, Vinny remarked on the steady improvement of the software, and said “I would do this every morning before school if I had it.”
Maya’s thoughts were much the same. She’s ten years old, and has been diagnosed with an aggressive bone cancer in her lower leg. After surgery to remove her tumor, Maya started doing physical therapy with the goal of getting back to the gymnastics she loves so dearly. Augment Therapy has been a part of her hospital regimen, and she’s taken to the augmented-reality environments enthusiastically.
Maya’s mom has observed that “Even when Maya isn’t feeling up to it, she still gets out of bed when the screen comes in. Within minutes there’s a smile on Maya’s face!” For Maya, the reason is simple: “I like that this therapy is like a game instead of exercise.” Indeed, on the weeks where Maya does Augment Therapy every day, her mom and her therapist can attest to Maya’s improved physical and mental state, hinting at the real-world impacts of this “game.”
In a feasibility trial at a hospital, physical therapist Elizabeth Hockey used the software with a young man who was extremely motivated by Augment Therapy’s game-like interface. He’d been hospitalized for seven months for various medical reasons. Facing pain, nausea, fatigue, and isolation, physical therapy had been incredibly hard on him.
When he heard there was a new technology that would “gamify” aspects of his care and was accessible in his hospital room, he was eager to participate. Soon enough, he was regularly putting in 35 minutes of uninterrupted exercise with Augment Therapy. He described the experience as “100% better than a standard session” of physical therapy. The reason seems obvious: Augment Therapy had succeeded in “gamifying” physical therapy.
Augment Therapy makes healthcare into a verb, and a fun verb at that. “To gamify” is, after all, to make something amusing and rewarding. When therapy is transformed into play, a significant chunk of the difficulty disappears, and enjoyment takes its place. For Vinny, Maya, and Elizabeth Hockey’s hospitalized patient, Augment Therapy has made a tough task a little bit easier.