Health Games for Physical Therapy Assistants

A novel concept for physical therapy assistants is the role that health games can play in both preventative and palliative care. Since physical therapy has an important job to do in helping people maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, as well as assisting in the management of chronic pain conditions, a great deal of research time and funds are invested in innovative ways to render treatment delivery more effective and efficient.

Games and play have of course been an integral part of health education for a long time, especially where children are concerned. But the development of technology in the realm of digital gaming opens a whole new set of possibilities in healthcare. Since adults as well as children may spend many leisure hours playing digital games, this represents a golden opportunity to leverage their enthusiasm in the service of greater well-being and healthy development.

Health Games for Physical Therapy Assistants

Traditionally, parents have been advised to limit the number of hours that their children spend in front of the computer playing online games — in part because it’s a pursuit that restricts their opportunities for physical activity. Reports have suggested that children today are less healthy than previous generations, and conditions such as childhood obesity and diabetes are a nationwide problem. Some experts also maintain that there’s a connection between poor health in childhood and a lack of academic achievement. So it’s encouraging to discover that the influence of digital games is not all bad, and that in fact they can help reinforce the acquisition of important skills and knowledge.

How Might Physical Therapy Assistants Use Health Games?

Physical therapy assistants may be able to tap into this trend to find tools that will help patients of all ages to follow the course of treatment that a physical therapist has prescribed for them. A new peer reviewed publication, Games for Health Journal, from Mary Ann Liebert Inc. publishers, provides a forum and discussion articles for a wide range of professionals associated with health care in many different ways, from academic researchers and IT specialists, to physical therapists, physicians, and those working in the medical insurance industry.

Many different applications of health games are discussed and the role they can play in the prevention as well as the management of diseases and conditions, such as weight management and nutrition, post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes monitoring, Alzheimer’s disease, and a whole range of emotional and mental health issues.

As well as improving the health and well-being of the population at large through games, another advantage will be to reduce the cost of care, especially for those who take an active role in managing their own health. Physical therapy assistants may well be able to look forward to the day when the gamification of physical therapy treatments is standard practice!

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