USF Students Program Video Games to Improve Patients’ Recoveries


Courtesy of USF News



USF computer science students and alumni are helping disabled patients stand and walk again with therapeutic video games that build patients’ strength and agility.



The games, designed for Microsoft’s 3D Kinect camera, allow patients to fly a plane, race a car, and search a tropical island for treasure — all without a joystick. Physicians and therapists can modify the games to require patients to control the action by leaning, bending, jumping, and lifting their legs — depending on each patients’ needs and ability.



Dozens of Dignity Health St. Mary’s Medical Center patients have benefited from game therapy over the past three years, under the care of neuropsychologist Dr. Kevin Carroll, who pioneered the treatment with USF’s David Galles, associate computer science professor.



“I’ve run patients with recent knee surgeries, I’ve run patients with strokes, and I’ve had a lot of cancer patients recently,” Carroll said. “Basically, there’s no one who doesn’t benefit.”



The games help patients regain strength and mobility in the case of a physical injury — like reconstructive knee surgery — and retrain the brain for fine motor skills in the case of a brain injury — like a stroke.



The results of game therapy have been impressive, resulting in quicker recovery times for some patients. And patients report more enjoyable therapy sessions, thanks to the gaming aspect.



“The department has offered so many fantastic opportunities to explore paths that interest me like game engineering and graphics,” said Jordan Goldin, a recent computer science graduate who is part of a team developing the tropical island treasure hunt game.



“The potential to help people makes it even more exciting.”



For more information contact Ed Carpenter | Office of Communications and Marketing at [email protected]


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