This Phase 1 SBIR project will lay the foundation to translate the CDC endorsed "Tai Chi: Movement for Better Balance" 1 program, a well-established, evidence-based falls prevention and wellness program into a low cost, easily accessed "Health in Motion" computer game program. It will be a virtually guided, interactive exercise program that marries groundbreaking gesture-controlled technology (released 4/2012) to a video game type environment deployed on a home computer and LED TV. Given a worldwide aging population, morbidity and mortality from falls pose a significant public health challenge. Exercise programs specifically designed to improve health, wellness and balance could save our already overburdened health care system $40,000 per avoided incident 2. Distribution of current wellness and balance programs is limited by the cost of training, distribution channels, and lack of adherence. Video game technology can provide one solution. Many people, including older adults are very interested in playing gesture-controlled games. Consequently, game based health promotion offers an untapped and viable market to deliver a public health intervention. Broad Objective: We intend to digitally translate an existing evidence-based exercise program, Tai Chi, using new technology for widespread dissemination and adoption to prevent functional decline and promote health and wellbeing in later life. Approach: We will employ our trans-disciplinary, user-centered, agile game design approach to develop "Health in Motion" and to ensure we meet the needs of the end-user groups (individuals with disabilities, older adults, clinicians).
Specific Aims : We will use standard product testing methodology, such as focus groups, play-testing and user acceptance testing, to engage our subject matter experts (SME) throughout the process. The SMEs will provide insight into game content, assessment, training, performance metrics and mechanics. Their insight along with our well-trained staff will iterate the design concept and create a player experience prototype for user acceptance feedback. Our initial design concept will combine a screen for balance impairments, instruction and progression through Tai Chi exercises, and feedback on performance for users and healthcare providers. The users'movements will be tracked with the Kinect(R) sensor, an innovative 3D gesture capture sensor that accurately identifies, recognizes and tracks a user's physical movements. The product will be low cost, easily deployed in the home, provide users with engaging and motivating game-like environments to improve adherence and provide healthcare specialists with feedback regarding client's performance. "Health in Motion" mediates many of the current barriers to dissemination of evidence based falls prevention programs. Finally, this product is relevant to the National Institutes of Aging initiatives because it "advances the availability of products and health practices for older adults.
Falls are a serious, expensive public health concern. Tai Chi exercises are one established evidence-based practice for fall prevention among seniors. Exercise interventions, including Tai Chi have been shown to decrease fall rates in seniors by 35-55%. Fall prevention programs can be more rapidly distributed with deeper penetration into the market using innovative technology add-ons to existing computer infrastructure. This project will develop an enhanced computerized translation of an existing classroom based Tai Chi exercise program proven to prevent falls. Innovative gesture-controlled computer interface technology and software will instruct, track and report performance using a robust database with an optional clinician's interface.