Fall prevention is of utmost importance not only in stroke rehabilitation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) around 28-35% of people aged 65 years and older fall each year. Experiences of falls are considered as stressful events which can lead to drastic consequences in social interaction, daily activities, and quality of life. Walking, balance, and cognitive disabilities are the strongest risk factors for falls. Hence, researchers strive to develop training programs that should not only prevent falls, but also regain physical and cognitive functions. With its strong expertise in stroke rehabilitation research, VASCage is now R&D partner in the recently launched European AAL (Active Assited Living) project ExerGetic.
The ExerGetic project aims to develop and examine a motivating exergame (the word is a composition of “exercise” and “gaming”) which is tailor-made for the geriatric population – the ExerG. The ExerG players control a video game environment projected on three surrounding screens with specific whole-body movements. The exercises are designed to be close to daily life activities and are performed in a safe training setting with a body weight support system. It is intended to be used in rehabilitation clinics, physiotherapy centres and nursing homes.
For the development of the ExerG, an interdisciplinary project team of all relevant disciplines (game design, industrial design, movement science and rehabilitation institutions) together with end-users (patients and their therapists) are involved. The team consists of the University of Waterloo in Canada, Zurich University of the Arts, the Swiss and Austrian rehabilitation centres Rheinfelden and Münster, VASCage Research Centre on Vascular Ageing and Stroke and Shery Ltd., a startup company specialised in the development of exergames based in Zurich.