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Gamification of Physical Therapy for the Treatment of Pediatric Cerebral Palsy: A Pilot Study Examining Player Preferences

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Curricular Issues in Computing and Information Technology Programs I

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.638.1 - 24.638.10



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Paper Authors


David M. Whittinghill Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Dr. David Whittinghill is an Assistant Professor of Computer Graphics Technology and Computer and Information Technology. Dr. Whittinghill' s research focuses on simulation, gaming and computer programming and how these technologies can more effectively address outstanding issues in health, education, and society in general.

Dr. Whittinghill leads projects in pediatric physical therapy, sustainable energy simulation, phobia treatment, cancer care simulation, and games as a tool for improving educational outcomes. Dr. Whittinghill is the director of

Prior to joining Purdue he was a senior software engineer in the research industry focused upon the fields of visualization, games, agent-based modeling, digital anti-tampering, robotics, pharmaceuticals, and web development. His primary skills expertise is in computer programming.

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Jacob Samuel Brown Purdue University

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Jacob holds a Master of Science in Computer Graphics Technology, which he obtained at Purdue University in 2013. His work has been featured in various conferences including SIGGRAPH and Eurographics. He currently lives in Chicago, IL where he works as a software developer.

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Gamification of Physical Therapy for the Treatment of Pediatric Cerebral Palsy: A Pilot Study Examining Player PreferencesPhysical therapy of the upper extremities has been demonstrated to be a useful treatment forpediatric cerebral palsy. This paper describes a custom-made Kinect-based health game calledBurnie that gamifies upper arm physical therapy for pediatric cerebral palsy patients by placingthe player in the role of a bird navigating a nature-themed obstacle course. This pilot studyevaluates the game for player satisfaction along the dimensions of graphics, controls, and overallenjoyment. In preparation for later testing with the target population of pediatric patients, aninitial pilot study was conducted with undergraduate students as test subjects using a post-testonly control group design. After subjects played the game for fifteen minutes, they evaluated thegame along the aforementioned dimensions using a pen and paper survey. Average observedratings (on a 10 point scale, higher being better) were: 7.65, 5.4, and 6.75, respectively. Theseresults indicate that Burnie is an enjoyable game experience, but in order to maximizeeffectiveness more research needs to be done on the control scheme to determine why it wasrated lower than the rest of the game. Identification of the specific factors that contribute tocontrol enjoyment is recommended. This work contributes to HCI by presenting a new methodfor leveraging computers to improve the quality of life of pediatric sufferers of cerebral palsy,and contributes to education by providing a new means for teaching individuals how to performspecific therapeutic gestures within a game-based learning session.

Whittinghill, D. M., & Brown, J. S. (2014, June), Gamification of Physical Therapy for the Treatment of Pediatric Cerebral Palsy: A Pilot Study Examining Player Preferences Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20529

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