University of Utah Researchers Create Game to Help Cancer Patients

September 27, 2011 -

Researchers at the University of Utah have developed a motion-controlled game that helps children with cancer cope with their illness by promoting good mental health and physical fitness. The game, which was developed by chemistry professor Grzegorz Bulaj, is called PE Interactive (PE stands for "patient empowerment").

Bulaj says the inspiration came from watching an eight-year-old boy (who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor) using an incentive spirometer to blow a ball upward as far as he could. The medical device helps with lung strength and is one way doctors help patients avoid debilitating illnesses such as pneumonia.

Bulaj contacted hematologist-oncologist Carol Bruggers, who works in pediatric oncology at Primary Children’s Medical Center, and began kicking around the idea of a game. "After talking to Carol,” Bulaj said, "the idea was defined like this: We activate the circuits in the brain that connect the part responsible for keeping us highly motivated to the part that contains motor activity.” Through associating physical activity with motivational stimuli, Bulaj says, “a new circuit of positive impulses would then be developed that would make patients feel stronger as they fight an illness. Possibly more important, they’ll have fun doing it."

The next step was to conduct some research on the concept of "patient empowerment," or the idea that a patient feels they can change something even what it seems impossible. She uncovered statistics in which stroke patients made significant progress in physical therapy focused on patient empowerment techniques.

"Patients who are more empowered are presumably more likely to be willing to fight their disease and maintain their treatment for a longer period of time," Bruggers explains.

She notes that hope is a major factor in treating cancer patients. Her hope is that her project helps to stave off the sense of hopelessness that many cancer patients feel.

"You know, this project was very exciting for me because I have a chance to be part of making something useful and fun for kids that will potentially help a lot of people," adds Bruggers.

Bruggers then went on to find out about EAE, a nationally ranked program jointly owned by the Department of Film and Media Arts and the School of Computing, that teaches students how to make video games at the University of Utah.

"EAE is designed to challenge students and present them with real-world opportunities. This project fit the bill perfectly," says Roger Altizer who is one of the key developers of the PE Interactive Video Game.

Altizer is the director of game design and production for the EAE program. Altizer and other EAE faculty Robert Kessler and Craig Caldwell, gathered a team of five graduate students to develop the game. The graduate students – Laura Warner, Kurt Coppersmith, Brandon Davies, Wade Paterson and Jordan Wilcken – worked over the summer to create a five-level multiplayer game featuring original music, characters, and a story the offers inspiration and empowerment to its users. The game is also portable so it can be used in a hospital room.

In one part of the game, players use Move controllers to spread mortar and stack bricks together. The wall is meant to represent a patient working with their team of caregivers to build their immune system up as they fight their cancer. Bruggers plans to observe how patients and families interact with the game and collect data on patients’ progress.

Source: Desert News


 
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MattsworknameIts an interesting concept, but it's not gonna appeal to everyone thats for sure,08/01/2015 - 5:40pm
Andrew EisenThat sounds horrifically boring. Doesn't sound like an interesting use of its time dilation premise either. 08/01/2015 - 5:36pm
Mattsworknamean observer , seeing this sorta frozen world and being able to explore without any restriction other then time. no enimes, no threats, just the chance to explore08/01/2015 - 5:34pm
MattsworknameAndrew: I meant lifeless planet, Time frame is an exploration game. Your dropped onto a world which is gonna be hit by a metor in 10 seconds, but due to time dilation ,you actually have ten minutes, so you can explore the world, in it's last moments, as08/01/2015 - 5:32pm
Andrew EisenLP is 20, TF is 8 and has an old build available as a demo.08/01/2015 - 5:32pm
MattsworknameLast I checked zip, Lifeless planet was 10 bucks on steam I think08/01/2015 - 5:29pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Which one? Time Frame? How exactly does that play? What exactly do you DO in that one?08/01/2015 - 5:29pm
Andrew EisenZip - Neither game is above $20.08/01/2015 - 5:28pm
Mattsworknamefinished it, great game all the same.08/01/2015 - 5:22pm
MattsworknameMy only complaint about that game was it's length, I felt it was a bit to short yet in certain places felt like it dragged on a bit. SOme areas were so engaging they flew by, others didn't do enough to keep me energized to play, but I got to the end and08/01/2015 - 5:22pm
ZippyDSMleeNo demo makes me not want to buy until its 10-20$ ><08/01/2015 - 5:21pm
Andrew EisenAh, yes. Lifeless Planet has a much better trailer. Tells me a bit about the game, its story and how it plays. Novel! http://store.steampowered.com/app/261530/08/01/2015 - 5:19pm
MattsworknameOn the same vien, another great exploration game is Lifeless planet. but that one has an actuall story, and real gameplay08/01/2015 - 5:16pm
MattsworknameDoc: I think it's the other way around, I think gamergate only really coalesed when a larger discussion on issues started. The Jerks and asshats just sorta got swept along with the tide.08/01/2015 - 5:13pm
MattsworknameYour not wrong andrew, the trailer doesn't explain much ,I had to play it to understand what made it unique08/01/2015 - 5:12pm
Andrew EisenBut, plenty of great games have crap trailers.08/01/2015 - 5:11pm
Andrew EisenMy problem is the trailer doesn't communicate how the game plays or what you do. The camera pans over the landscape for about a minute and a half and that's about it. Not sure how that's supposed to interest anyone.08/01/2015 - 5:10pm
DocMelonheadLike I mentioned before: Gamergate may have been created by mean spirited bigots to use it to trick people to support their actions.08/01/2015 - 5:10pm
MattsworknameDoc: I think the issue is that IP cannot seperate the small group that used the Gamergate hashtag to hide there mean spirited actions ,from the rest of the people who wanted to discuss actuall issues in the industry08/01/2015 - 5:08pm
MattsworknameAs for time frame, the idea is good, I just wish it was using hi def graphics and allows for more exploration. Still think the idea is a good one if properly fleshed out08/01/2015 - 5:07pm
 

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