Playfulness and new technologies in hand therapy for children with cerebral palsy: A Scoping Review

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Background: Innovative technologies such as game consoles and smart toys used with games or playful approaches have proven to be successful and attractive in providing effective and motivating hand therapy for children with cerebral palsy (CP). Thus, there is an increased interest in designing and implementing interventions that can improve the well-being of these children. However, to understand how and why these interventions are motivating children, we need a better understanding of the playful elements of technology-supported hand therapy.

Objective: This scoping review aims to identify the playful elements and the innovative technologies currently used in hand therapy for children with CP.

Methods: We included studies that design or evaluate interventions for children with CP that use innovative technologies with game or play strategies. Data were extracted and analyzed based on the type of technology, description of the system, and playful elements according to the Lenses of Play, a play design toolkit. A total of 31 studies were included in the analysis.

Results: Overall, 54 papers were included in the analysis. The results showed high use of consumer technologies in hand therapy for children with CP. Although several studies have used a combination of consumer technologies with therapeutic-specific technologies, only a few studies focused on the exclusive use of therapeutic-specific technologies. To analyze the playfulness of these interventions that make use of innovative technologies, we focused our review on 3 lenses of play: Open-ended Play, where it was found that the characteristics of ludus, such as a structured form of play and defined goals and rules, were the most common, whereas strategies that relate to paidia were less common. The most commonly used Forms of Play were physical or active form and games with rules. Finally, the most popular Playful experiences were control, challenge, and competition.

Conclusions: The inventory and analysis of innovative technology and playful elements provided in this study can be a starting point for new developments of fun and engaging tools to assist hand therapy for children with CP.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere44904
Number of pages24
JournalJMIR Serious Games
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2023


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