IMPROVE PLAYFUL COLLABORATION BETWEEN
THERAPIST AND PATIENT IN PHYSIOTHERAPY SESSIONS

Project details

Year:2015
Duration: 4 months
My Role:User Research, UX Design, Concept creation, Scientific Research, Development, Evaluation, Documentation
Clients:Digital Media Lab University of Bremen
Team:Individual project
Tools:Unity3D, Microsoft Kinect, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Keynote, Pen&Paper

Challenge

  1. Motivate physiotherapy patients to perform their exercises
  2. Inspire collaboration between the patient and the therapist
  3. Integrate easily into the environment of the therapy

Goals

  • Speed up the healing process of physiotherapy patients
  • Make therapy sessions fun and enjoyable
  • Enable therapists to perform adjustments in real time as needed

Values

  • Well-being
  • Collaboration
  • Empowerment

The Problem

Physiotherapy requires patients to perform exercises that can be painful. The therapist guides the patient to perform the exercises in the correct way and with a healthy degree of exertion. There are virtual games that aim to make therapy more enjoyable. However, therapists feel that they are being excluded from therapy, using these games. They need games they can tailor to the patient’s needs in real time.

Research

I conducted four interviews with physiotherapists before developing a concept to get a better understanding of their work and therapy sessions. Here I talked specifically to therapists who were familiar with motion-based exertion games. This way I could also find out about frustrations they had with such games and why they would or would not use them. I also visited a physiotherapy training group to get inspired with movements that can become part of the game.

Development

To test the effectiveness of real-time adjustments, I developed a small game that requires the patient and therapist to collaborate. The patient’s movement is captured with the Microsoft Kinect sensor. The therapist arranges objects on the screen that the patient has to interact with and this way creates movement patterns for the patient.

Scheme for the therapist interaction
Mockup for interaction flow

Interaction Design

The interaction needed to be intuitive to both participants. The therapist uses traditional mouse input to arrange objects in the game. The patient needs no device but just stands in front of the Kinect and moves their arms.

Evaluation

I planned, conducted and analyzed eight evaluation sessions of 30 minutes each. One session was a focus group with two physiotherapists and one health trainer. To evaluate usability, I used the System Usability Scale, an industry standard to reliably measure usability. Each session also included a semi-structured interview.

The forms and questionnaires used during evaluations can be found in the PDF (only available in German). Below is a short overview of the evaluation structure in English.

Structure

  • Short introduction & Informed consent form
  • Questionnaire about demographic data
  • Play-test the game for 5 minutes
  • Questionnaire: System Usability Scale
  • Questionnaire about specific aspects of the game
  • Semi-structured interview with open questions
  • Closing

Results

The results showed that the developed prototype had an average good usability rating of almost 90 out of possible 100 points. A crucial requirement was for the game to be quick and easy to setup and start, which was met by the prototype. The concept was believed to be practical and valuable for physiotherapy sessions and ideas about how to take it further were contributed in interviews.

Thesis and Publication

The background, research, development and evaluations are documented in more detail in my bachelor thesis (only available in German). It was graded with 1.3 at the Digital Media Lab of the University of Bremen.

The Digital Media Lab was convinced that my work was valuable to the community and together we wrote the scientific paper “Grab-that-there”: Live Direction for Motion-based Games for Health that presents our learnings. It got submitted to and published in the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) in 2017.