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Harnessing the power of gamification for rehab


There is a growing number of challenges facing the healthcare system today including increasing healthcare costs and low patient engagement. The use of gamification can be an effective way of tackling these issues by integrating game science and gaming mechanics into healthcare contexts to improve clinical outcomes.

Games are defined as physical and/or mental contests that are played according to specific rules. Gamification is when we take those game design elements and place them into non-game contexts.

‘Serious games’ are games that have education or rehabilitation as a primary goal and combine entertainment, attentional engagement, and problem-solving to challenge function and performance, and can provide an attractive and challenging setting for patients to practice their skills.

What is the evidence?

Neurorehabilitation research has shown that serious games can have a pronounced positive impact (when used in) rehabilitation (1,2) and can improve memory and attention in stroke patients (3), as well as enhance long-term retention of upper limb skills. 

In addition, use of technology for Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) showed enhanced outcomes and promoted brain plasticity in stroke compared to normal constraint-induced rehabilitation using technology.

Gamification is also gaining traction in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, with serious games being shown to have a positive effect in patients with the following:

  • Pain (5, 6)
  • Lower limb amputation (7)
  • Traumatic shoulder (8)
  • Distal radius fracture (9, 10)
  • Stiffness post metacarpal fractures (11)
  • Other musculoskeletal disorders (12)   
Benefits of gamification

There are a number of benefits that come with gamification for both patients and healthcare providers.  

For healthcare professionals, more patient data can be generated, improving clinical decision-making, eliminating assumptions, and enabling early intervention with patients who may be disengaged or struggling. Gamification can be used to facilitate cost efficiencies in helping to manage increasing demands on therapists, as well as expanding remote patient access to care. Additionally, for products that offer home-based gamification with remote monitoring, long-term engagement with exercises has been demonstrated, combined with increased patient satisfaction and loyalty. 

Gamification can provide patients with autonomy and ownership over their own rehabilitation, increase their adherence to their rehab regime, and improve health outcomes as a result. In addition, multi-player games can help to create a sense of social connection.

See references below.


How can GripAble help my patients?

GripAble’s 2-in-1 assessment and training platform for the hand and arm can be used across musculoskeletal, neurological, and pediatric conditions. As a tool, GripAble can be calibrated to register minute movements of the hand and wrist, meaning even those with severe physical impairment in the hand can engage and start their rehab journey. 

GripAble provides gamified rehab through a selection of ’serious games’ that encourage engagement, repetitions, motivation, and adherence, delivering higher value care. Patients can receive instant feedback on their performance, with their therapist able to track and monitor their activity and progress remotely.

Through gamification, GripAble provides an engaging, interactive, and easy-to-execute platform for rehabilitation. Serious, fun, rehab!



  1. Doumas, I., Everard, G., Dehem, S., & Lejeune, T. (2021). Serious games for upper limb rehabilitation after stroke: a meta-analysis. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 18(1), 100.
  2. Adlakha, S., Chhabra, D., & Shukla, P. (2020). Effectiveness of gamification for the rehabilitation of neurodegenerative disorders. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, 140(1), 110192.
  3. Gamito 1.Gamito P, Oliveira J, Coelho C, Morais D, Lopes P, Pacheco J, …Barata AF. Cog- nitive training on stroke patients via virtual reality-based serious games. Dis- abilRehabil 2017;39(4):385–8. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2014.934925
  4. Gauthier LV , Kane C , Borstad A , Strahl N , Uswatte G , Taub E , …Mark V . Video Game Rehabilitation for Outpatient Stroke (VIGoROUS): protocol for a multi–center comparative effectiveness trial of in-home gamified constraint-induced movement therapy for rehabilitation of chronic upper extremity hemiparesis. BMC Neurol 2017;17(1):1–18
  5. Jones T, Moore T, Choo J: The impact of virtual reality on chronic pain. PLoS One. 2016, 11:e0167523. 10.1371/journal.pone.0167523 
  6. Gold JI, Belmont KA, Thomas DA: The neurobiology of virtual reality pain attenuation. Cyberpsychol Behav. 2007, 10:536-44. 10.1089/cpb.2007.9993
  7. Chan ZY, MacPhail AJ, Au IP, Zhang JH, Lam BM, Ferber R, Cheung RT: Walking with head-mounted virtual and augmented reality devices: effects on position control and gait biomechanics. PLoS One. 2019, 14:e0225972. 10.1371/journal.pone.0225972
  8. Schwartz I, Safran O, Karniel N, et al.: Positive effect of manipulated virtual kinematic intervention in individuals with traumatic stiff shoulder: a pilot study. J Clin Med. 2022, 11: 10.3390/jcm11133919
  9. Naqvi WM, Qureshi MI: Gamification in therapeutic rehabilitation of distal radial and ulnar fracture: a case report. Cureus. 2022, 14:10.7759/cureus.28586 
  10. Ermutlu C, Mert M, Kovalak E, Kanay E, Obut A, Öztürkmen Y: Management of distal radius fractures: comparison of three methods. Cureus. 2020, 12:e9875. 10.7759/cureus.9875
  11. Then, J. W., Shivdas, S., Tunku Ahmad Yahaya, T. S., Ab Razak, N. I., & Choo, P. T. (2020). Gamification in rehabilitation of metacarpal fracture using cost-effective end-user device: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Hand Therapy, 33(2), 235–242.
  12. Gumaa M, Khaireldin A, Rehan Youssef A: Validity and reliability of interactive virtual reality in assessing the musculoskeletal system: a systematic review. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2021, 14:130-44. 10.1007/s12178-021-09696-6