Each Week OT expert, Sarit Tresser will be giving an in-depth insightful analysis into the various ways Health Games aid both children and adults with disabilities. Tune in to receive first-hand input from a professional in the medical field of child development
Today I will be focusing on Timocco for children, age 5 -8 with a 1-2 motor function level, meaning children are able to walk independently.
These children are likely to be high-functioning and are able to cope with most of the functions required of them. At this age they acquire tools for independence in all areas of life, such as clothing, eating, hygiene, learning, playing and leisure. These children are capable of many aspects of their life; however they are facing many challenges and struggles as well.
Virtual reality offers great value for children at this stage in their life, when they are starting to learn about the world and begin to compare their abilities to the capabilities of children their own age. Children often experience frustration because they are aware of their surroundings, and fail to meet their own expectations.
The gap between children with normal development and those with developmental challenges are becoming increasingly noticeable, especially when it comes to activities of play and leisure. Children of this age often play physical games such as climbing, playing on the playground, ball games and more. Children with limited motor skills cannot attend these activities as equals.
Motion based video games are becoming very popular among children this age. Most games challenge motor skills such as, response time, coordination, balance and more. Children with cerebral palsy find themselves outside these social games, often a product of their fear of failure and a low sense of self-efficacy. Virtual game environments such as Timocco, allows these children to take part in a normative activity, like that of their typically developed siblings and peers, meaning the game is adapted to their abilities and increase their sense of competence.
Children enjoy the experience of success, and at the same time they are reinforcing important skills. These children can be a challenged by the different treatment goals. For example, if we wish to enhance muscle strength of the hands, it is possible to put wrist weights on the child while he plays with Timocco. If we want to improve posture and balance, it is recommended to set the stimuli of the game to appear at the edges of the screen, and the child will be required to stretch his hands to the edges and away from the center of his body in order to reach the desired objects. If the child is ready, the therapist can also ask him to stand in a vestibular plate or on a balance board in order to challenge his abilities further. This will allow gaining of another important goal when working with these children, which is the ability to perform a number of functions simultaneously. When we ask the child to play in the virtual environment and also stabilize the body on a vestibular plate, the child is required to develop body awareness, gain control over body movement, and to separate the hand moment from the movement of the torso and legs. This requires a high-level of coordination and the ability of motor planning and attention. The goal is to develop the ability to stabilize the body efficiently and automatically , so that the attention can be directed into the game, while automatically maintaining balance.