Microsoft CityNext: Exploring the gamification of patient care

Dr. Bibhas Roy is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon (shoulder & elbow), Trafford General Hospital, Central Manchester Foundation Trust in Manchester.

Patient-centred outcomes are those that are patient generated, reported and valued. This is particularly the case in the specialist field of orthopaedic surgery where encouraging patients to take responsibility for their own rehabilitation is vital to a successful recovery.

One technique we are currently exploring at Trafford Hospital to encourage patients to take more responsibility for their rehabilitation is the use of motion sensor technology – i.e. the latest generation of computer gaming hardware consoles. This incorporates range of movement measurements – something that previously required a clinic appointment - and a tailored group of physiotherapy exercises that are designed with gamification principles to create ‘exergames’

The ‘gamification of patient care’ takes the concept of post-orthopaedic surgery exercise routines into the patient’s living room in front of their gaming console. As this video illustrates, the patient can step through a series of exercises following the rules of the game they are playing:


The essence of the rehabilitation is that the patient performs their exercise routines within the context of playing a game such as ‘Airplane’ where the patient flies a virtual aeroplane and shoots different targets that appear on the screen. As this example exemplifies, playing a first-person shooter computer game can aid patient rehabilitation!

There is considerably more potential for the ‘gamification’ of patient care beyond post-operative rehabilitation to proactive intervention in falls prevention for the elderly and frail, intensive care monitoring and speech and language therapy for example.

Within the North-west NHS region, a group of hospitals and the University of Salford have set up a Special Interest Group to explore the use if motion sensor gaming consoles, such as Microsoft Kinect, in health and social care. We are in the process of setting up a conference on ‘gamification in health and social care’ for Spring Autumn 2014 and will provide more information in an update to this blog post in due course.

For more information on how we are using motion sensor technology in health and social care please contact me. For more information on how Microsoft is working with local government, check out Microsoft CityNext.

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