Games for Rehabilitation and Strength Training

Participation rates in repetitive-motion exercise programs, such as programs for muscle-strengthening and physical rehabilitation, are low.

Exergames can help make exercise fun by combining gameplay with physical activity. But it is challenging to build compelling games around repetitive exercises. Games involve players making meaningful choices, but repetitive-motion workout programs are rigidly structured, making it difficult to find opportunities for such choices. As such, there is a struggle between providing players with meaningful choices and meeting the constraints of the exercise program.

Brains & Brawn is a novel strategy card game for muscle-strengthening. Brains & Brawn shows several design techniques for introducing agency into repetitive motion games. Initial playtesting has demonstrated that players experience agency during gameplay, are incented to exercise with correct form, and show favorable attitude toward the game.

We are currently taking the techniques explored in Brains & Brawn and adapting them to a game for rehabilitation exercises for children with Cerebral Palsy.

For more information

Chad Richards and T.C. Nicholas Graham, Developing Compelling Repetitive-Motion Exergames by Balancing Player Agency with the Constraints of Exercise. In Proceedings of Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2016). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 911-923.


At Queen's University: Chad Richards, Liam Collins, Nick Graham

At Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital: Elaine Biddiss, Hamilton Hernandez, Ajmal Khan