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Neuro rehab technology

This game is bettering post-stroke care

“The learning takes place in an easy, quick-to-follow mode, somewhat similar to the very popular ‘EA Sims’ game”

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A new app developed by an international team of researchers is helping to better post-stroke care by offering training on how to take care of a stroke patient in a virtual environment.

Dr Rytis Maskeliūnas who is part of the research team highlights that returning home after stroke can be considered as a “second shock” as the stroke doesn’t just affect the patient, but also the lives of their family/carer.

Teaching through interactivity

The game ‘iTrain’ is an interactive training course that has been designed to support post-stroke care, consisting of different tools, which the researchers state as being: a brochure, an interactive Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), visual material, and a serious game. 

The researchers believe that this interactive training fits in to an “increasingly popular”genre of training.

Maskeliūnas references that most people will have a “superficial knowledge” of stroke and that the superficial knowledge will remain that way until “life forces us to get to know the problem in more depth.”

The iTrain game aims to offer families and carers an educational hands on experience in a virtual world to quickly learn how to care for a stroke patient.

“The learning takes place in an easy, quick-to-follow mode, somewhat similar to the very popular ‘EA Sims’ game,” says Maskeliūnas.

Dr Rytis Maskeliūnas

Based on real-life data

The researchers state that the game offers an educational “exemplary nursing practise” which includes how to create a safe home environment by allowing users to try outpatient care in a virtual environment, along with teachings on other aspects essential for post-stroke care.

How does it work? 

By clicking on an object or scenario, will prompt a task that will test the users knowledge, the user will have to choose the optimal option that determines the quality of life of the person being cared for. 

Situations will constantly change, as the quality of life is affected by a variety of factors ranging from simple things such as the need to eat and sleep, to more complex issues like the persons psychological state.

According to Maskeliūnas, this form of training will appeal not only to the younger generation, but to all, as this form of training offers a more enjoyable and less time-consuming experience than reading a brochure or spending hours on a course.

“Professional medical expertise and real-life evidence gathered during the “iTrain” project have been used for the game’s methodology,” says Maskeliūnas.

The basis for the game is formed by data collected by researchers, including interactions with stroke survivors across multiple countries and medical practise.

“To our knowledge, there are no serious games that teach about stroke care. Even in nursing, it is a rather broad niche, where one of the pioneers was our game, introducing dementia in old age”, says Maskeliūnas.

How the effectiveness of the game was measured

The game’s effectiveness was measured by a depression scale, Maskeliūnas states that this scale was used due to the common occurrence of depression in stroke survivors post-stroke.

For some families the costs of a nursing home can be out of the picture, meaning it essential to be able to provide care at home, Maskeliūnas says: “It is morally difficult to watch a loved one suffer, and the care is time-consuming (with special food, hygiene, exercise, communication) so that there is no time left for oneself.”

The researchers state that because of these reasons, depression can also occur on the relatives of patients, whose lives are also changing radically.

In order to investigate the impact of “iTrain” on the course of depression, which can be caused b the burden of carers, researchers used the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS).

Maskeliūnas concludes that the results of the study showed that the ‘iTrain’ game had a significant positive effect on the change in anxiety among carers and stroke patients.

The “iTrain” game is available on Google Play and Apple App Store.

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