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Primary Focus: Rehabilitation, Disability, and Participation

Learning Objectives:

● Define interactive gaming and discuss the use of commercial gaming within the rehabilitation setting as an emerging approach to occupational therapy intervention.

● Discuss how the current literature on the use of interactive gaming impacts participation in daily activities following stroke.

● Identify strategies and propose a plan for implementation of interactive gaming within the rehabilitation setting in order to increase upper extremity functioning in adults following stroke.


With approximately 700,000 people experiencing stroke in the U.S. each year and 2/3 requiring rehabilitation services, stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States (Post-stroke rehabilitation fact sheet, 2011). Upper extremity (UE) weakness is the most common motor impairment, with 85% of individuals demonstrating a deficit in UE functioning following stroke (Broeren, Claesson, Goude, Rydmark, & Sunnerhagen, 2008). Interactive games are a low cost intervention that can motivate patients and develop motor skills while eliciting repetitive UE movements (Annema, Verstraete, Abeele, Desmet, & Geerts, 2013). As “New Technology in Rehab” (AOTA, 2014) is identified as an emerging niche by the American Occupational Therapy Association, a comprehensive literature search was conducted to systematically review the literature supporting the use of interactive gaming in increasing UE functioning in adults following stroke. CINAHL, OVID and PubMed were searched for peer-reviewed literature published in English between 2004 and 2014. Title, abstract, and full-text screens were completed by multiple authors. 11 articles meeting the following criteria were included in the final analysis: Levels I-V of evidence, a commercial interactive gaming intervention within a clinical setting, and outcomes related to UE functioning in adults over age 21 post stroke. Two authors critiqued each article using the Critical Review Form for Quantitative Studies (Law et al., 1998).

Findings from 11 studies indicate that the use of commercial gaming within a clinical setting can be effective in increasing upper extremity functioning in adults with stroke. Studies utilizing a variety of commercial games, duration and frequency of treatment, and adjunctive therapy revealed statistically significant changes in client factors including strength, range of motion, and motor skills as well as significant improvement in occupational performance. Further research is needed to determine the functional outcomes related to utilizing commercial gaming post stroke. Through this presentation, professionals will gain an understanding of the evidence and clinical implications of commercial gaming to expand the quality of care provided in stroke rehabilitation. Discussion of these concepts will highlight the supports and barriers to implementing this evidence-based intervention in occupational therapy practice.

Presentation: 40 minutes