WS5 – Virtual Reality and Gaming in Rehabilitation

Serious Games (SG) have the objective to improve motor deficits while monitoring and assessing patients progress, offering motivating environments while performing game-based training. This technology is a novel and relevant tool in neurorehabilitation, allowing the development of treatments to supplement traditional clinical practice.

The world of SG has been radically transformed in the last few years due to the tremendous increase in popularity of low-cost motion sensors and Virtual Reality systems. Accelerometers, gyroscopes or cameras can be found in most available smart phones and gaming controllers and depth-sensing cameras can enhance the user experience by enabling full-body interaction. Furthermore, new visualization devices such as the Oculus Rift offer new immersive experiences with unprecedented levels of realism.

Throughout the workshop, an overview about SG applications in clinical contexts will be done, emphasizing the importance of knowing the key elements to take into account in the rehabilitation process. Students also will complete a hand-on tutorial on videogame programming using use low-cost depth-sensing cameras for rehabilitation using Kinect together with MiddleVR and Unity software. In addition, basic software tools will be introduced for analysis of results obtained from the SG systems.



PhD Iris Dimbwadyo is Occupational Therapist, lecturer and postdoctoral researcher in La Salle University of Madrid. She is mainly involved in research projects in the area of biomechanics upper limb analysis and rehabilitation using virtual reality and motion capture systems in neurological pathologies. She also coordinates the Postgraduate Program on Occupational Therapy in Brain Injury and the Master Degree on Robotics and Virtual Reality-based therapies for Brain Injury, in Castilla La Mancha University.

Aitor Ardanza is a Telecommunications engineer specialised in computer graphics, games and virtual reality. Currently he is a researcher at Vicomtech-IK4 in the area of 3D animation and interactive virtual environments. His main interests are in the design and development of virtual reality interfaces for a wide range of applications -such as rehabilitation and assistive technology- and in the interaction with motion capture systems.



Day 1 – Applying SG to everyday rehabilitation practice (1,5 hours)

  • Introduction and theoretical background of SG.
  • The meaning of motivation in SG applications for rehabilitation.
  • Current commercial SG systems for rehabilitation.
  • Research in SG for rehabilitation.

Day 2 – Design of videogames for rehabilitation (1,5 hours)

The objective of this session is to learn the basis of videogame programming by completion of a hands-on-tutorial. The workshop will outline basic concepts and required resources in order to enable participants to use low-cost depth-sensing cameras for rehabilitation using Kinect together with the MiddleVR and Unity software development kits (SDK).

  • Introduction to Software Development Kits (SDKs) for SG: MiddleVR and Unity.
  • Review of current input and visualization devices: Microsoft Kinect, VR Walls, Oculus Rift.
  • Hands-on tutorial using Unity, MiddleVR and Microsoft Kinect.

Day 3 – SG results’ analysis and VR demo (1,5 hours)

The workshop final day will be divided in two halves. On the first half, an introduction on data analysis applied to SG will be given. Basic concepts on data acquisition and processing will be presented, aimed to provide tools useful to evaluate the patient’s progression in an objective and continuous way. Examples of real-world applications using this technology will be presented.

On the second –and final- half a virtual reality demo using the Oculus Rift will be presented to the audience. Immersive visualization devices –although introduced many years ago- are now experiencing a revival due to the appearance of affordable devices such as the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear. Attendees will have the chance to use a VR demo developed for the workshop and experience the potential offered by this technology for the field of neuro-rehabilitation.


Expected audience

The workshop is designed mainly for clinicians and software engineers interested in starting using videogames for everyday rehabilitation.
No specific previous knowledge is required to follow the workshop, although programming experience is desirable.


Topics in which the PhD students will get insight

Students will learn the basics of Serious Games and their applications in the rehabilitation process. Freely available software development kits will be used to create simple videogames, and clinical analysis of results from SG systems will be performed.


HW/SW that the participant needs to bring/install

Attendees are expected to bring their own laptops, with the following software installed:

Hardware and software requirements are as follows


  • Although Unity is compatible with Mac OS X, MiddleVR is not.