Development of a 3D immersive videogame to improve arm-postural coordination in patients with TBI

Ksenia I. Ustinova, Wesley A. Leonard, Nicholas D. Cassavaugh, Christopher D. Ingersoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) disrupts the central and executive mechanisms of arm(s) and postural (trunk and legs) coordination. To address these issues, we developed a 3D immersive videogame - Octopus. The game was developed using the basic principles of videogame design and previous experience of using videogames for rehabilitation of patients with acquired brain injuries. Unlike many other custom-designed virtual environments, Octopus included an actual gaming component with a system of multiple rewards, making the game challenging, competitive, motivating and fun. Effect of a short-term practice with the Octopus game on arm-postural coordination in patients with TBI was tested. Methods. The game was developed using WorldViz Vizard software, integrated with the Qualysis system for motion analysis. Avatars of the participant's hands precisely reproducing the real-time kinematic patterns were synchronized with the simulated environment, presented in the first person 3D view on an 82-inch DLP screen. 13 individuals with mild-to-moderate manifestations of TBI participated in the study. While standing in front of the screen, the participants interacted with a computer-generated environment by popping bubbles blown by the Octopus. The bubbles followed a specific trajectory. Interception of the bubbles with the left or right hand avatar allowed flexible use of the postural segments for balance maintenance and arm transport. All participants practiced ten 90-s gaming trials during a single session, followed by a retention test. Arm-postural coordination was analysed using principal component analysis. Results: As a result of the short-term practice, the participants improved in game performance, arm movement time, and precision. Improvements were achieved mostly by adapting efficient arm-postural coordination strategies. Of the 13 participants, 10 showed an immediate increase in arm forward reach and single-leg stance time. Conclusion: These results support the feasibility of using the custom-made 3D game for retraining of arm-postural coordination disrupted as a result of TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


  • brain injury
  • motor rehabilitation
  • postural control
  • virtual reality


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