Using gamification in rehab
A Taiwanese health tech start-up hopes to put itself on the map by helping seniors regain mobility in a fun and engaging way.
LongGood, a Taiwanese health tech start-up, wants to help seniors regain their mobility in a fun and engaging way through gamified rehabilitation programmes equipped with motion-sensing technology. The company has high hopes that through its programmes, it can empower over 120,000 people by 2022.
Supported by the DBS Social Enterprise Support Programme, LongGood’s PAPAMAMA system has been adopted by 37 healthcare and medical facilities in Taiwan and Singapore, benefitting over 1,500 patients from its innovative approach to rehabilitation
Ageless Online talks to the organisation’s chief operating officer, Zoe Liang, about this game-changing approach:
Gamification has become very popular recently and now it is being incorporated into helping seniors. Why is this? How does it help seniors or give them more incentives compared to the way we used to do things?
Repeated movements in physiological rehabilitation are necessary for recovery but most patients find the repetition boring and mundane. We’ve received very positive feedback that patients find PAPAMAMA’s gamified treatments very refreshing, thanks to the audio and visual stimulation. As a result, using our solution motivates them to get better, faster.
This is a big deal especially for patients who are hospitalised as a faster recovery means they can get discharged sooner. For those who have to go through longer term treatment, they are more motivated to continue resulting in better recovery.
Tell me more about PAPAMAMA. Are the programmes played on a iPad/TV screen and the types of patients you are targeting with the system?
LongGood’s PAPAMAMA system uses motion-sensing technology to detect multiple points on the patient’s body and together with cloud capabilities and gamification design, it projects images onto a TV or projection screen to guide patients to execute various rehabilitation training. Specifically, the system operates like a video game console where there is a 3D sensor in front of a TV screen, which captures the users’ movements as they interact with game visuals on the screen.
There is no need to commute to and from the hospital as the virtual reality (VR)-enhanced training and evaluation of the patient provides the therapist with required data to systematically analyse and manage patient cases. Through game design, patient rehabilitation is enhanced while providing them the will and motivation to continue therapy.
Our aim is to make rehabilitation accessible to those who need help with regaining mobility. Currently, our solution is designed for patients with neuro-degenerative diseases; those who need post-surgery care; the elderly, e.g. in nursing homes and care centres; and people with mild intellectual disabilities (cerebral palsy) and special needs.
As the global population ages, the healthcare systems of every country will also face significant challenges to meet the needs of an ageing population. Our solutions help physical therapists and medical professionals to increase efficiency, accuracy and save time.
Any feedback you can share?
Physiotherapy is usually a long-term treatment lasting months or even years. Providing a variety of games for patients to choose from makes it more fun and interesting for them to continue treatment. Continuity of treatment is crucial for patients’ recovery so they need to be motivated.
We have received positive feedback from patients, through healthcare practitioners, that this interactive training increases the adherence and compliance of patients. Hospital statistics from Taiwan also show that patients who use the PAPAMAMA system get discharged faster and satisfactory scores for treatment are higher.
Your training can even help those who are combatting loneliness and with Alzheimer’s? Are these areas you might want to consider?
A number of our partner medical facilities also shared that there are more and more Alzheimer’s patients who are using the PAPAMAMA system as part of their therapy. The feedback we got from these facilities is that the patients enjoy the visual and audio stimulation of the PAPAMAMA software.
Each sensor of the PAPAMAMA system can accommodate up to six players, which allows patients to interact with one another through multi-player games. Therapists at our partner medical facilities observed that patients tend to be more enthusiastic when they are playing the games with friends.
Can you share the hospitals/clinics that you are currently working with here in Singapore?
Currently, our PAPAMAMA solution is adopted by two rehabilitation centres in Singapore. We are in discussions with major local hospitals and healthcare providers to implement the solution and provide trials at their facilities for patients such as those who have suffered from stroke.
In Taiwan, LongGood is working with public health centres in Taipei districts and we plan to expand to care and medical facilities in Southeast and East Asia over the next few years. We believe that we can reach the goal of empowering over 120,000 people by 2022.
Increasingly, psychiatrists have been expressing interest in our solution as well because the gamification of rehabilitation allows their patients to receive treatment in a fun way while socialising with their family and friends.
Even real estate developers in Taiwan that are building homes for the elderly have also approached us. They would like to provide our solution as part of the residential facilities so that the seniors may access rehabilitation services at their own time and convenience, without having to travel far distances to a medical centre.
The 120,000 people by 2022 covers seniors only and in what countries?
This includes inpatient and outpatient numbers in Taiwan and Singapore across age groups. We are happy to share that this number will increase as we are currently expanding to Hong Kong, China and Macau.
How has DBS specifically supported you?
Start-ups like us find it challenging to break into a new market due to our small size and lack of business and industry connections. DBS helped to open doors to business opportunities for us in Singapore, showed us the ropes about doing business here, and linked us up with industry partners and distributors. We also received mentorship from DBS bank executives who taught us how to develop compelling business pitches and marketing materials. We often consult with them prior to visiting prospective clients and assessing business opportunities in Singapore. We are privileged to have a team at DBS whom we can call on at any time to answer our queries which has supported our expansion journey tremendously.
The DBS Foundation grant funding supported our development and marketing efforts for business expansion into Singapore.
Will you be adding more features in the future to your system?
Definitely. We will increase the types of training programmes with more varied customisation features for different countries and communities. For example, the occupational training will simulate daily tasks such as grocery shopping, taking public transport, etc.
We’ll also be investing more time and effort in developing an evaluation tool using AI technology where different neuro skeletal models can be mapped and used to identify physiological or gait abnormalities of the patient. Currently the physiotherapists evaluate patients mostly through observation, as well as institutional and professional knowledge. They have been seeking ways to sharpen and refine the treatment analysis, therefore the AI evaluation tool will provide clearer and more specific diagnosis of the patient’s condition.
Do the users pay you for the programme? What is the cost and if not, who incurs?
Currently, we operate a B2B business. The rehabilitation facility procures the programme and provides it to their patients. That said, we have B2B2C plans in the future, where end-users can either procure or rent the system from facilities to use at their convenience.