Serious Gaming to Support Exercise Therapy

Objective: To investigate the feasibility of a functional exercise program supported by serious gaming for patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain (LBP).

Methods: Ten patients with chronic nonspecific LBP and an underlying motor control impairment were re- cruited. Subjects performed a partially supervised exercise program (36 sessions, 18 weeks) that included 30 minutes of general conditioning and 90 minutes of individually tailored functional motor control exercises (MCEs). Serious games (SGs) were used to (1) improve thoracolumbar dissociation and (2) to provide postural feedback during functional MCEs. The SGs were also available at home.

Results: Treatment satisfaction and the scores on the credibility/expectancy questionnaire were good and did not change throughout the intervention. Patients remained motivated throughout the rehabilitation program and no serious adverse events were reported. Overall, participants indicated that the SGs helped them to perform the home exercises more correctly, and as a consequence, they felt more confident doing them. However, the time needed to set up the games was a barrier for home use and participants would have found it useful to receive postural feedback during daily life activities.

Conclusions: It is feasible to support a functional exercise program with SGs for patients with chronic non- specific LBP, both in a supervised and a home environment. Time-efficiency and the integration of SGs in daily life activities are challenges that need to be addressed in the future.

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