Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have developed a new video game to help children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) improve their balance.
Study lead author Brittany Travers explained that balance challenges are more common among people with ASD compared to the broader population, reported the German news agency (dpa).
She added: “We think this video game-based training could be a unique way to help individuals with ASD who have challenges with their balance address these issues.”
In the game, players are rewarded for doing certain poses and postures, which indirectly helps them promote their capacity to maintain balance and posture.
The gaming system uses a Microsoft Kinect camera and a Nintendo Wii balance board connected to software developed on a Windows platform using Adobe Air.
“Players see themselves on the screen doing different ‘ninja’ poses and postures, and they are rewarded for doing those poses and postures. That’s how they advance in the game,” said Travers.
In this pilot study, 29 ASD participants between the ages of 7 and 17 completed a six-week training program playing a video game developed by the researchers.
By the end of the program, study participants showed significant improvements in not only their in-game poses, but also their balance and posture outside of the game environment.