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Serious games combined with wearables in battling pediatric obesity : the medical professionals' perspective

Scholten, M. (2018) Serious games combined with wearables in battling pediatric obesity : the medical professionals' perspective.

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Abstract:Introduction. The number of people with obesity or overweight in the modern world is increasing, with the number of children aged 5-19 categorized as obese or overweight exceeding 340 million individuals worldwide. Obesity is paired with psychological, physical and environmental issues that might well persist into adulthood. Treatment of obesity is aimed at changing the lifestyle to increase physical activity and increase the consumption of healthy foods. Through the years, these lifestyle changes have been aided by a range of technologies. Currently, wearables and serious games seem to be the next innovation. Serious games are used to track the progress of a participant and provides feedback in a playful learning environment. As research shows that consumers and children experience an overall positive attitude towards serious games and wearables, this research aims to assess the opinion of the medical professional, the physical therapist, tasked with treating children with obesity. Methods. A questionnaire has been set-up based on a literature review exploring the impact of obesity and current developments in the area of serious games and wearables. The questionnaire included questions with an open character to get insight in the current situation, the respondent’s stance on wearables and serious games and introduced a hypothetical game called Healthy Buddy. The gathered data was complemented with information gathered from a casual conversation with 2 graduates (MSc) in the fields of Psychology and Health & Society, and an interview with a pediatrician. Results. A total of 8 physical therapists answered the questionnaire. All of them were enthusiastic about the possibility of implementing serious games combined with a wearable into their treatment sessions. They felt that the combination of serious games and wearables would provide the child with visual cues of its progress and ensure the physical therapist has control over and insight in the lifestyle of the child. However, they felt that the game should be adjusted to the individual goals of the child, should offer variation, challenges and engage peers. Furthermore, the influence of parents, the possibility of the child sabotaging the process, the game being only a hype for a short period of time and an increase of screen time were mentioned as factors that require further consideration. Conclusion. Physical therapists specialized in children were enthusiastic about implementing serious games combined with wearables in their treatment sessions. They felt the technology makes it possible for children to see their progress while therapists (and parents) are able to have insight and control on progress and are able to provide feedback. They felt the technology produced a trendy solution based on the wishes of modern society.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:TNW: Science and Technology
Subject:01 general works, 44 medicine, 70 social sciences in general, 77 psychology
Programme:Health Sciences MSc (66851)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/75558
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