Author's School

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Author's Department/Program

Computer Science and Engineering


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Caitlin Kelleher


Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability among adults in industrialized nations, with 80% of people who survive strokes experiencing motor disabilities. Recovery requires daily exercise with a high number of repetitions, often without therapist supervision. Motion-based video games can help motivate people with stroke to perform the necessary exercises to recover. We explore the design space of video games for stroke rehabilitation using Wii remotes and webcams as input devices, and share the lessons we learned about what makes games therapeutically useful. We demonstrate the feasibility of using games for home-based stroke therapy with a six-week case study. We show that exercise with games can help recovery even 17 years after the stroke, and share the lessons that we learned for game systems to be used at home as a part of outpatient therapy. As a major issue with home-based therapy, we identify that unsupervised exercises lead to compensatory motions that can impede recovery and create new health issues. We reliably detect torso compensation in shoulder exercises using a custom harness, and develop a game that meaningfully uses both exercise and compensation as inputs. We provide in-game feedback that reduces compensation in a number of ways. We evaluate alternative ways for reducing compensation in controlled experiments and show that using techniques from operant conditioning are effective in significantly reducing compensatory behavior compared to existing approaches.


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