People fortunate to survive a stroke face a hard road to recovering their full mental and physical capabilities. Canoeist Sam Chick found himself facing that journey after a stroke rendered the left side of his body immobile 12 years ago.
But Chick's been getting a more enjoyable kind of physical therapy thanks to special games created by the The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Unveiled earlier this week, the KineLabs platform consists of three games that help patients regain strength and mobility by controlling software designed for Microsoft's motion-tracking camera.
The games may have terrible names—Hong Kong Chef, Good Views Hunting and, erm, Cockroach Invasion—but playing the role of chef, window cleaner or cockroach stomper get patients moving upper and lower limbs. The KineLabs games also pair up with software that tracks progress over time.
In an article on news site Nykom, Chick says the poorly-titled games are better than the exercises he used to have to do:
"It is also an intensive exercise session. I used to paddle a canoe. Now when I finish the game, I feel my body is hot and sweaty, the same feeling as having done intensive sports. Normal physiotherapy courses can be boring, since we just repeat the same actions in front of other patients. But through the games I can have more fun," he said.
"If I perform well in the games, a ‘trophy' will be shown on the screen. It brings back memories of winning medals in sports competitions in the past."
Recent releases like Kinect Star Wars may not be winning gamers' hearts but projects like KineLabs show that the Xbox 360 camera peripheral might actually be a potential life-saver after all.