ELEMENTS is a suite of interactive creative games designed to help individuals with an acquired brain injury relearn essential movement skills using a touchscreen tabletop. Patients use hand-held objects to play the games, compose music and create animated artwork. Through these playful activities, the patient’s motor and cognitive skills are enhanced.
The Elements design provides patients with a suite of goal-directed and exploratory game-like applications for composing with sounds and visual feedback that promote artistic activity.
Each game environment provides augmented feedback designed to reinforce the patient’s sense of agency and position in space. This feedback is in the form of audiovisual effects that are synchronised with the users own motion to encourage skill learning. Patients can re-discover new ways of leaning movement in a guided and self-directed fashion.
A key design feature of Elements is the use of hand-held objects as an interface to play the games, compose music and create animated artwork. This provides a natural mode of interaction that is attuned to the user’s body and the way they move in the environment. Each object has a simple but appealing aesthetic using shape, size, texture, color and physical weight that triggers curiosity and exploration.
The design assists patients to relearn object manipulation and placement skills that are essential in daily actions like lifting a cup or placing a food container.
Elements is designed to track three aspects of arm movement during goal-directed tasks: movement speed, accuracy of object placement, and movement efficiency between targets. These variables are recorded for later analysis and can be fed-back to patients graphically to visualise their performance and motivate continued progress. Patients can also view a video-replay of their movement path to highlight areas of strength and weakness.
Together this feedback provides patients with highly detailed picture on their movement performance and progress which facilitates learning.
Elements represent one of very few interactive digital media interventions that has been evaluated successfully for brain injury in a clinical setting. The system has shown positive effects on motor and cognitive function in adults and transfer to activities of everyday living. Evaluation of Elements in the field of paediatric disability also shows positive treatment effects in children with severe conditions affecting movement including Childhood Stroke and Cerebral Palsy.
Together, these studies show that the Elements design makes a powerful contribution to the treatment of a wide range of people with neurological impairments, both child and adult.
Our aim was to make the system design user friendly and intuitive for therapists who use Elements. This goal is vital because poor usability limits the acceptance of technology by rehabilitation professionals. The user interface is displayed on the touch-screen, and operated with simple touch, swipe or drag actions. We use commercially available hardware to provide a simple “plug and play” operation.
The screen integrates a computer processor, multi-point touchscreen, and marker-based visual tracking via cameras embedded in the unit below the surface of the screen. Elements is a compact and self-contained system, which does not require complex configuration or calibration.