In Turkey and the world, children have become less active as a result of their addiction to computer games, leading to many serious diseases like obesity. However, a recent project offers a game that enhances hand and muscle abilities to treat of patients
Advancing technology and the rise of a more sedentary lifestyle is afflicting Turkey. Children, in particular, have become less physically active, as they have gradually become addicted to computer games and certain communication devices. This lack of mobility causes various health problems, including obesity.
A team of students and academicians from Istanbul University's Faculty of Health Sciences developed a new project to encourage children to be more physically active in daily life. The "Treatment with Game" project is supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) and centers on "mobility," which should be the focus of life, according to the dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Ahmet Akgül. To lead a healthy life, people have to exercise as much as possible. Professor Akgül said one of the biggest problems of our age is a lack of activeness.
Everybody knows the importance of playing sports and exercise; however, people decide to begin exercise on Monday, but often put it off to the following Monday, as it is not our nature to play sports. When we visit the doctor or hospital, they offer us exercise programs, but we never follow them.
To raise healthy generations, the new Istanbul University project uses gaming consoles, such as Nintendo Wii and Xbox, and adapts them for exercising programs based on patients' needs. The programs strengthen muscles, increase endurance and develop balance. However, as games on the market are developed for entertainment, patients who have problems with their hands and fingers have a hard time playing these games.
The project team at Istanbul University developed games with Leap Motion sensors to increase the hand and finger abilities of patients, as part of the TÜBİTAK-supported project. Since these games are developed for treatment purposes, they provide advantages for treating various physical illnesses.
There are different forms of the games on the market. These new games focus on intended movements, offer information about the joints during exercises and guide the patient to perform the movements correctly. Moreover, the difficulty level of the games, the targeted durations and speed can be adjusted according to patients' needs. The games also provide data about the patients' performance during the exercise and angle of their movements, which can later be presented to physical therapists. This reporting system allows doctors and patients to follow developments during the treatment process.
Students and academicians behind the project first tested the games on children suffering from rheumatism. Children with rheumatism suffer from weakness, fatigue and pain in their joints and have a hard time performing routine physical tasks. Children who exercise with the games developed as part of the project showed progress. The scientists are also able to adjust these games for handicapped children and adult patients who have mobility problems.
According to Professor Akgül, the games could be used with patients of every age group who need to regain more physical mobility. This new type of treatment can also be used by people who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Under the supervision of physical therapists, healthy people can use the treatment to maintain muscle strength and flexibility, strengthen cardio vascular endurance and increase physical activity and exercise. With the help of the games, overweight people and people suffering from obesity can control their physical activity levels and increase the duration of exercise gradually.
The treatment is also used to improve balance and coordination, maintain muscle strength and gain flexibility for physical therapy and rehabilitation purposes. Children suffering from cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, obstetrical brachial plexus palsy, pes equinovarus, postural problems, scoliosis and spinal problems and other types of patients can be treated with this type of physical therapy.