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Research Quest on rehab gamification

Research Quest on rehab gamification
Top 10 Research Quests from Research Raconteur

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If you have ever:

  • Exercised in order to get rewards from your health insurance,

  • Chosen one coffee shop over another to get loyalty points,

  • Logged into an app to maintain your “streak”,

then you have fallen for gamification.

You are proof that it works.

That is why I have recently become obsessed with the idea of adding gamification elements into rehab.

The more I read about it, the more obvious it becomes that this is something that has the potential to drastically improve patient compliance and the rate of successful outcomes.

A review came out in 2021 from Tuah et al.:​​

  • The researchers found 42 clinical studies where gamification was shown to increase patient motivation and engagement.

    In several of those studies, gamifying the rehab even increased the efficacy of the therapy in orthopedic, neurological and gait rehabilitation.

Another review came out last year by Pimentel-Ponce et al. specifically looking at neurological rehab:​​

  • After reviewing 10 clinical trials, the authors found that adding elements of points, levels, missions and rewards increased therapeutic adherence.

However, it is more complicated than simply adding a few extrinsic rewards.

A review by Zuckerman and Gal-Oz in 2015 saw that:​​

  • Studies where the researchers solely added a point system or leaderboard did not outperform normal rehab.


There are 4 intrinsic and 4 extrinsic systems that NEED to be in place in order for any gamification system to actually improve outcomes.

But aren't games just for teenage boys?

Would this actually work on adults as well?​​

According to surveys by Statistica, AARP & ESA:

  • 68% of gamers are over 18 years old.

  • The average gamer is 33 years old with 45% being female.

  • There are more adult women playing games than under 18 year old boys.

If you’re looking for a system to increase patient compliance and success, then we have a course coming out on 29 August where we guide you step by step through how we gamify an Achilles tendinopathy program.


Tuah, N.M.; Ahmedy, F.; Gani, A.; Yong, L.N. A Survey on Gamification for Health Rehabilitation Care: Applications, Opportunities, and Open ChallengesInformation 202112, 91.

Pimentel-Ponce M, Romero-Galisteo RP, Palomo-Carrión R, Pinero-Pinto E, Merchán-Baeza JA, Ruiz-Muñoz M, Oliver-Pece J, González-Sánchez M. Gamification and neurological motor rehabilitation in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Neurologia (Engl Ed). 2021 Apr 15:S0213-4853(21)00049-9. English, Spanish. doi: 10.1016/j.nrl.2021.02.011. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33867183.

Zuckerman, O., Gal-Oz, A. Deconstructing gamification: evaluating the effectiveness of continuous measurement, virtual rewards, and social comparison for promoting physical activityPers Ubiquit Comput 18, 1705–1719 (2014)

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Written by Kyle van Heerden

Online Educator at Research Raconteur

Top 10 Research Quests from Research Raconteur

Are you ready to clinically conquer?

  • FREE Top 10 Research Quests ebook (as voted for by over 5,000 clinicians)

  • FREE infographical summaries on the latest
    clinical research

  • FREE membership to all future Research Quests

You're in world-class company:

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to bring them the latest studies in clinical injury assessment and rehabilitation.

"These updates help me keep up to date on physiotherapy

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The summary of the articles give me

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My favourite thing about the weekly research updates is how recent the articles are and the humour in the email."

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Short and crisp with highlighted findings make the job easier and more effective."

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change my practices

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I also discuss them with my colleagues in my workplace."

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"Reading the research and getting better ideas of how we can get the best results for our patients is always welcomed.


Nice summarised version which is relatively quick to look through.

Your twist on presenting the research is always fun.

Not too much information all at once and hence the information is digestible and can be worked on. "

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Our profession is changing at a very fast pace, sometimes I struggle as a full time clinician to find time to look for new information, sometimes I find the amount of info is overwhelming and confusing.

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Thank you so much for your effort, I really appreciate it."

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"The Updates have helped me

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My favourite thing about the weekly Research Updates is that it is usually succinct."

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- Bryce Jackson

"I find these updates so helpful.


It is often so difficult to find time to read articles when you have your own practice.

Between seeing patients and running your practice it becomes difficult to make sure that you are up to date on the latest rehab techniques and new studies that's been done.


I used to spend hours

trying to find relevant articles that actually helps me to treat my patients better.


These updates makes it so easy and the best part is

you can apply what you read in your practice.


I really feel that it makes a huge difference in my practice and if i need to read the whole article it is right at my finger tips.


My favorite thing about these weekly updates is that

I learn something new every week

and then I apply that to my rehab.

I love the fact that I can tell a patient I read this article about their injury and this is the latest an greatest new research about it.

They love it as well.


It is like breath of fresh air in my practice."

- Drienie Loock

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