Metal hip solid: Computer game hopes to prevent elderly falling over

A computer game is aiming to help elderly avoid falls, after being developed by researchers at the University of Manchester. 

The fitness games, known as ‘Exergames’, use the Microsoft Kinect sensor – popularly used in games like Kinect Sports, to make staying active more engaging for older people.

Physical activities such as squatting will be used to control the movement of objects on a TV screen.

The games were also made in collaboration with MIRA Rehab Limited and have been tested by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Fall Prevention Team and its patients.

Research shows that engaging in physical exercise can prevent the risk of fall by at least 40%, but many older people find it difficult to maintain sufficient activity levels.

Dr Emma Stanmore, Lecturer in Nursing at The University of Manchester, said: “We spoke to a lot of older people and physiotherapists before creating the games because it was really important that what we produced was easy to use and made keeping fit as fun as possible for the target audience.”

One third of people over 65 will suffer a fall – this rises to half for people over the age of 85.

Falls can lead to severe injuries which may resort in victims needing home care, some incidents can also lead to fatality which researchers hope the game will help prevent.

Though Exergames are exclusive to Trafford Community Services, there is hope that the initiative will be rolled out across the NHS due to its cost-effectiveness.

Trafford Intermediate Care Team Leader at the Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, Debra Maloney, praised the new project.

She said: “It’s been fantastic to be part of a project that really is at the cutting edge of falls prevention and will make a huge difference to older people.”

The Exergames have been designed with the help of physiotherapists and currently include three games and four different exercises. 

Image courtesy of The Pointe at Kilpatrick, with thanks. 

Related Articles