Putting the fun into therapy for people with multiple sclerosis

  • Date

    Tue 9 Apr 19

Man taking part in exergaming

Sports scientists held a fun exergaming event for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) at our Colchester Campus.

There is growing evidence that the use of exergames (using your body to control a computer game) could help improve the balance of fallers in general.

The University joined forces with the charity MS-UK to hold a fun competition to show how specifically-designed exergames for people with MS provide a good rehabilitative tool which can encourage continuity in training, be convenient for the participants, be less tiring than traditional falls prevention training and be enjoyable.

Researchers at Essex have been looking into the benefits of exergaming and a successful pilot study was recently carried out at Joseph’s Court in Colchester in collaboration with the MS-UK. The feedback from the people who trialled the games was very positive and the team are looking to fund further research.

The event at the University’s sport laboratories involved trialling the VirtualRehab software which offers bespoke games for people with MS using the motion capture technology of the Kinect game console. What sets this software apart from other exergames is it allows the therapist to alter the games so the therapy becomes individualised to the recipient.

Emeritus Professor Chris Cooper, from our School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, said: “The real beauty of exergaming is that the game environment makes exercise enjoyable. I was particularly happy, as a person with multiple sclerosis myself, to collaborate with the charity MS-UK to hold a competition demonstrating this software in the University’s Sports Arena.

“People with MS should be able to enjoy healthy, physical competition and exergaming gives them that opportunity, as well as having potential therapeutic benefits. The long term research aim is that events such as these develop sufficient interest to fund a clinical trial. If exergaming can be show to improve health, it will be easier to get funding to roll out its use in a wide variety of conditions.”