There are few gamer grandparents. That is a fact. Video games and elderly people usually live in worlds far, far apart. However, serious games can provide an amazing range of benefits to their health and well-being. So while playing Mario Kart with your grandparents could be fun, this time I am talking about a game like V-Time.
V-Time is an evidence-based game (this means its design is backed up by scientific evidence from research) in the form of a treadmill training program augmented by virtual reality to decrease fall risk in older adults and certain patients with damaged motor skills. How many times have you seen an old person –maybe even a relative- fall in the street, down the stairs or at a crossing, as age impairs their agility and coordination? A few, probably. In fact, 30% of the people over 65 fall at least once a year, with the consequences this might imply. Therefore, we must put the focus on prevention.
To do so, V-Time is designed to be an intensive training oriented to the improvement of all factors related to fall risk, focusing on the motor skills but also the cognitive aspects, aided by virtual reality simulation. In V-Time, patients train on a treadmill while being presented with challenges and obstacles which vary in speed, orientation, size, appearance and/or frequency, and which can be manipulated according to the needs of each patient.
Patient’s movements are detected using Kinect and renderized taking into account the possition of tracking devices installed in the participat’s shoes. Besides the treadmill, a harness prevents patients from falling while training.
The study in which the design of V-Time is based, has gathered a sample 300 participants, with the last follow-up evaluations being held this August. Hopefully V-Time will soon present its results and opening the door to actively reduce the fall risk and keep our grandparents as fit and agile as a marathon runner.