University of Utah Researchers Create Game to Help Cancer Patients

September 27, 2011 -

Researchers at the University of Utah have developed a motion-controlled game that helps children with cancer cope with their illness by promoting good mental health and physical fitness. The game, which was developed by chemistry professor Grzegorz Bulaj, is called PE Interactive (PE stands for "patient empowerment").

Bulaj says the inspiration came from watching an eight-year-old boy (who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor) using an incentive spirometer to blow a ball upward as far as he could. The medical device helps with lung strength and is one way doctors help patients avoid debilitating illnesses such as pneumonia.

Bulaj contacted hematologist-oncologist Carol Bruggers, who works in pediatric oncology at Primary Children’s Medical Center, and began kicking around the idea of a game. "After talking to Carol,” Bulaj said, "the idea was defined like this: We activate the circuits in the brain that connect the part responsible for keeping us highly motivated to the part that contains motor activity.” Through associating physical activity with motivational stimuli, Bulaj says, “a new circuit of positive impulses would then be developed that would make patients feel stronger as they fight an illness. Possibly more important, they’ll have fun doing it."

The next step was to conduct some research on the concept of "patient empowerment," or the idea that a patient feels they can change something even what it seems impossible. She uncovered statistics in which stroke patients made significant progress in physical therapy focused on patient empowerment techniques.

"Patients who are more empowered are presumably more likely to be willing to fight their disease and maintain their treatment for a longer period of time," Bruggers explains.

She notes that hope is a major factor in treating cancer patients. Her hope is that her project helps to stave off the sense of hopelessness that many cancer patients feel.

"You know, this project was very exciting for me because I have a chance to be part of making something useful and fun for kids that will potentially help a lot of people," adds Bruggers.

Bruggers then went on to find out about EAE, a nationally ranked program jointly owned by the Department of Film and Media Arts and the School of Computing, that teaches students how to make video games at the University of Utah.

"EAE is designed to challenge students and present them with real-world opportunities. This project fit the bill perfectly," says Roger Altizer who is one of the key developers of the PE Interactive Video Game.

Altizer is the director of game design and production for the EAE program. Altizer and other EAE faculty Robert Kessler and Craig Caldwell, gathered a team of five graduate students to develop the game. The graduate students – Laura Warner, Kurt Coppersmith, Brandon Davies, Wade Paterson and Jordan Wilcken – worked over the summer to create a five-level multiplayer game featuring original music, characters, and a story the offers inspiration and empowerment to its users. The game is also portable so it can be used in a hospital room.

In one part of the game, players use Move controllers to spread mortar and stack bricks together. The wall is meant to represent a patient working with their team of caregivers to build their immune system up as they fight their cancer. Bruggers plans to observe how patients and families interact with the game and collect data on patients’ progress.

Source: Desert News


 
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TechnogeekAnd as far as the Card thing went, I basically balanced it out personal guilt-wise by donating an amount equal to the Shadow Complex purchase price to the ACLU.03/05/2015 - 9:44pm
TechnogeekWelp, look like the Gerberghazi crowd is going to have to use Bing now. https://twitter.com/googlecloud/status/57365320825126093003/05/2015 - 9:42pm
Goth_SkunkAhh! I misinterpreted your statement about being left with almost every game in existence. I interpreted it as 'If you boycott games he's been involved with, you're boycotting almost all of them.'03/05/2015 - 9:31pm
Andrew EisenGoth - Card has been involved with only a small handful of games so if one were to boycott games for his involvement, they wouldn't be missing out on many games.03/05/2015 - 9:29pm
Goth_Skunk@Craig: Only if you're not interested in seeing it end.03/05/2015 - 9:27pm
Craig R.Instead of calling people the "anti gamergate faction", you could just call them "sane"03/05/2015 - 9:23pm
Goth_SkunkWhat do you mean 'almost every game in existence'? Card is a writer, not a game developer.03/05/2015 - 9:18pm
Andrew EisenBut I too wonder how many people who cry boycott actually follow through. I vaguely remember a few years ago a bunch of people boycotting one of the CoD games and were all found playing it on Steam.03/05/2015 - 7:53pm
Andrew EisenAn interesting quandary but not equivalent as boycotting games that Card was involved with leaves you with... well, almost every game in existence.03/05/2015 - 7:51pm
MechaTama31I agree that it's silly to avoid buying a game because one person involved with it said some things you disagree with. But I wonder how many of the people calling it silly this time have boycotted games for, say, Orson Scott Card's involvement?03/05/2015 - 7:40pm
PHX Corphttp://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/28274296/officer-injured Officer In Critical Condition Following Shooting Inside North Phila Game Stop03/05/2015 - 6:55pm
WonderkarpThe Shutup was a quick interjection saying "HEY! EVERYBODY SHUT UP AND LOOK AT THIS!" and I got the Critical Condition from a Local news site. I linked TMZ.03/05/2015 - 6:49pm
Andrew EisenThey call me The Jaws of Life.03/05/2015 - 6:48pm
Goth_SkunkThat's terrible. Now that it's been noted, can we return to Andrew's amazing steel-tearing teeth?03/05/2015 - 6:42pm
Andrew EisenWell, sucks that that happened and I'm glad he's alright (nothing in the article you linked says he's in critical condition) but there's no need for anyone to shut up.03/05/2015 - 6:41pm
WonderkarpEVERYBODY SHUT UP! Harrison Ford is in Critical Condition After A Plane Crash!! D: http://www.tmz.com/2015/03/05/harrison-ford-plane-crash-landing-golf-course-santa-monica/03/05/2015 - 6:38pm
Goth_SkunkIt ruined my joke about your billionaire lifestyle affording you state-of-the-art dentistry. I longed to see you fill your mouth with steel-tearing jaws.03/05/2015 - 6:32pm
Andrew EisenYep, typos happen. Even on the invoices I send for my freelance work. Yeah, that's always super embarrassing.03/05/2015 - 6:29pm
Goth_Skunk"Steel" your fr- aww crap you fixed it.03/05/2015 - 6:26pm
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