Skip to main content

Design of Tangible Games for Children Undergoing Occupational and Physical Therapy

  • Conference paper

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNISA,volume 7522)


Games can offer an entertaining alternative to repetitive tasks. In this paper, we propose the use of tangible interactive games for the repetitive training of upper limbs in the therapy of children with Cerebral Palsy (CP). We obtained promising results. The total of four created games succeeded in triggering all the to-be-trained movements properly and in a motivating and entertaining way. A physical quiz game was especially successful as children kept on playing the game making the proper movements without additional encouragement or instructions of the therapists or researchers. These results indicate that in this kind of occupational or physical therapy, there is additional value in using tangible interactive games. Furthermore, the research shows the importance of including the therapists in the design of games and we report on several ways to achieve that.


  • Participatory design
  • games for therapy
  • tangible games
  • special user groups
  • children
  • cerebral palsy


  1. Aarts, P.B., Jongerius, P.H., Geerdink, Y.A., van Limbeek, J., Geurts, A.C.: Effectiveness of modified constraint-induced movement therapy in children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy: a randomized controlled trial. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair 24(6), 509–518 (2010)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  2. Annema, J.H., Verstraete, M., Vanden Abeele, V., Desmet, S., Geerts, D.: Videogames in therapy: a therapist’s perspective. In: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Fun and Games, pp. 94–98. ACM, New York (2010)

    Google Scholar 

  3. Burns, C., Dishman, E., Verplank, W., Lassiter, B.: Actors, hairdos & videotapeinformance design. In: Conference Companion on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 1994, pp. 119–120. ACM, New York (1994)

    Google Scholar 

  4. Buur, J., Jensen, M.V., Djajadiningrat, T.: Hands-only scenarios and video action walls: novel methods for tangible user interaction design. In: Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Designing Interactive Systems: Processes, Practices, Methods, and Techniques, DIS 2004, pp. 185–192. ACM, New York (2004)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  5. Chen, Y.P., Kang, L.J., Chuang, T.Y., Doong, J.L., Lee, S.J., Tsai, M.W., Jeng, S.F., Sung, W.H.: Use of virtual reality to improve upper-extremity control in children with cerebral palsy: a single-subject design. Physical Therapy 87(11), 1441–1457 (2007)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  6. van Delden, R.W.: Design of therapeutic TagTile games for children with unilateral spastic cerebral paresis. Master’s thesis, University of Twente, the Netherlands (September 2011)

    Google Scholar 

  7. Deutsch, J.E., Borbely, M., Filler, J., Huhn, K., Guarrera-Bowlby, P.: Use of a low-cost, commercially available gaming console (Wii) for rehabilitation of an adolescent with cerebral palsy. Physical Therapy 88(10), 1196–1207 (2008)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  8. Djajadiningrat, J.P., Gaver, W.W., Fres, J.W.: Interaction relabelling and extreme characters: methods for exploring aesthetic interactions. In: Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Designing Interactive Systems: Processes, Practices, Methods, and Techniques, DIS 2000, pp. 66–71. ACM, New York (2000)

    Google Scholar 

  9. Griffiths, M.: The therapeutic use of videogames in childhood and adolescence. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 8, 547–554 (2003)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  10. van Herk, R., Verhaegh, J., Fontijn, W.F.: Espranto sdk: an adaptive programming environment for tangible applications. In: Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2009, pp. 849–858. ACM, New York (2009)

    Google Scholar 

  11. Horowitz, R., Maimon, O.: Creative design methodology and the sit method. In: Proceedings of DETC 1997: 1997 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference, pp. 14–17 (1997)

    Google Scholar 

  12. Kannetis, T., Potamianos, A.: Towards adapting fantasy, curiosity and challenge in multimodal dialogue systems for preschoolers. In: Proceedings of the 2009 International Conference on Multimodal Interfaces, ICMI-MLMI 2009, pp. 39–46. ACM, New York (2009)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  13. Kierkegaard, P., Markopoulos, P.: From Top to Bottom: End User Development, Motivation, Creativity and Organisational Support. In: Costabile, M., Dittrich, Y., Fischer, G., Piccinno, A. (eds.) IS-EUD 2011. LNCS, vol. 6654, pp. 307–312. Springer, Heidelberg (2011)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Korhonen, H., Montola, M., Arrasvuori, J.: Understanding playful user experience through digital games. In: Guenand, A. (ed.) Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces, DPPI 2009, pp. 274–285 (2009)

    Google Scholar 

  15. Li, Y., Fontijn, W., Markopoulos, P.: A Tangible Tabletop Game Supporting Therapy of Children with Cerebral Palsy. In: Markopoulos, P., de Ruyter, B., IJsselsteijn, W.A., Rowland, D. (eds.) Fun and Games 2008. LNCS, vol. 5294, pp. 182–193. Springer, Heidelberg (2008)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  16. Malone, T.W., Lepper, M.R.: Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. In: Snow, R.E., Farr, M.J. (eds.) Aptitude Learning and Instruction: III Conative and Affective Process Analyses, vol. 3, pp. 223–253. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hilsdale (1987)

    Google Scholar 

  17. Moon, H.K., Baek, Y.K.: Exploring variables affecting player’s intrinsic motivation in educational games. In: Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Computers in Education, pp. 718–722 (2009)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2012 IFIP International Federation for Information Processing

About this paper

Cite this paper

van Delden, R., Aarts, P., van Dijk, B. (2012). Design of Tangible Games for Children Undergoing Occupational and Physical Therapy. In: Herrlich, M., Malaka, R., Masuch, M. (eds) Entertainment Computing - ICEC 2012. ICEC 2012. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 7522. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-642-33541-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-642-33542-6

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)