CP TALKS -The impact of video games on people with cerebral palsy from the view of a medical doctor

Each week, we invite speakers, guests and influencers to “sit down” virtually with us and talk about cerebral palsy topics, as well as their life stories or experiences.

Our first speaker is actually one of our collaborators, Anna Kushnir. She is a medical doctor in Ukraine, at the International Rehabilitation Clinic.

Anna Kushnir : her story as a medical doctor and working with kids

 I love getting to know more of our speakers from a personal perspective, so I started our talk with diving a bit into Anna’s journey and how she got to become a medical doctor, what were the reasons that pushed her into this area of work.

Anna told us it was her very first job after my medical residency and i ve been working in the field of childhood disability for almost 5 years.

I always wanted to be a medical doctor because I had this passion to change something and to make people feel better. I prefer to work with children, so finally I became a paediatrician.

You can tell by the way Anna talks about her, her work, how she gets a bit emotional and how much passion for what she does there is. It’s rare to find people who care so deeply about their profession and whose goal is to help people get better. She is a true inspiration and such a young, vibrant and sociable person.

Therapy sessions and working with children with cerebral palsy

It’s so lovely to hear someone so passionate talk about how much they love what they do, and mostly when that involves helping every single day someone. So in this next part of the interview I wanted to know what are her favorite things about this profession, about working with children, something maybe that’s stuck with her…

At the International Rehabilitation Clinic in Ukraine, Anna and her colleagues work with patients with different neurological disorders, but especially with cerebral palsy, and most of them are children. For her, it’s very encouraging to work with children, because “they notice beauty in regular things, and they are also very frank in what they feel and what they say to you. She says she prefers workinh with children, mainly because of these reasons.

Watch our interview with Anna on our Youtube channel

Regarding her therapy sessions with the kids, Anna mentions that they provide different methods of medical rehabilitation, including computer game therapy. It provides not only motor training, but also motivation and fun.

Because sometimes a child needs rehabilitation during their entire life and sometimes it’s frustrating, and tiring, but video games training fills them with energy and motivation.

And indeed, it’s much better for them if they have some fun and thrilling stuff, instead of the same routine. And plus, everyone loves playing games, including adults, and this attracts them also to therapy, it makes them more inclined to do the therapy.

Anna goes on to mention that it facilitates social interaction, and it really matters.

Because if we talk about childhood disabilities,it’s very challenging so we hope that children can play and they can meet new friends and I think that it will be a great idea for them.

I then mention to Anna the fact that I read their pilot study regarding balance games and how she described the whole experience and how it led to positive results, and how they used the trunk measurement control as a positive effect. 

Anna goes on to add that the intervention was different, for the experimental group they played with the Able games platform, and the other group just commercial video games. The study was conducted during two weeks and the outcome measures were trunk control measurement scale that assesses the sitting balance and is created for children with cerebral palsy. They also assessed the walking of the child and they also used 2 diagnostics toosl from the platform, the static balance test and the dynamic balance test. The static balance test resembles the classic stability test. They also noticed that the physical therapists liked this idea of an embedded diagnostic tool because you can track changes in progress at home or at the clinic. The results were improvement in the sitting balance and dynamic balance after only two weeks and we hope that if we have a longer period of time, we would have even bigger results.

The future of games being used in therapy

What we have achieved together with our collaborators during this pilot study is essential information that helps our future platform be even better. And in relation to video games, I took the opportunity to ask Anna how she sees the future of games in therapy but also at home.

Anna mentioned that the COVID-19 situation really demonstrated that rehabilitation is the future and if we talk about serious gaming and computer games, we can also use them at home and regarding our system, it allows the children to interact with physical therapists. So it’s a really good approach for participation of the child as well. Anna said she thinks the future is in video games.

Your vision on life

Our talk has been really informative and helpful,so I wanted to ask Anna what would be the three most significant words in her life, in her profession. She is such a visionary and such an energetic person, and when you hear her talk, you can feel her emotions, so I wanted the last part of our interview to be a bit more personal.

The three words she gave me were: evidence based, engagement, encouraging. I quickly realised these are all linked to what she does, her work with the kids, and it made me feel inspired. It left a good vibe and a sense of admiration for her work and hopefully she will join us again soon to tell us even more.

Stasism is a revolutionary new social online platform with therapeutic physical video games made exclusively for people with Cerebral Palsy. The first of its kind, delivering a constant stream of new and exciting games, characters, features and much more, leading to a happier childhood. Discover how.

Sofia Tsimidopoulou
Sofia Tsimidopoulou
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