User Centered Design and Development of a Game for Exercise in Older Adults

By Rachel Proffitt and Belinda Lange.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Thirty percent of older adults fall every year. One of the most effective methods to help prevent falls is participation in a regular fitness or exercise program to build and maintain capacities. Few exercise programs for older adults utilize the advances in technology and gaming for fitness. Fifteen older adults currently involved in a fitness program for seniors at California State University–Fullerton participated in focus groups. The focus groups explored perceptions of health and wellness, the use of and access to technology, and ideas for the development of a game for fitness. The data were analyzed using open coding and the themes that emerged from the data were used in the design of a prototype game. Nineteen older adults participated in an iterative user testing process of the prototype game. The iterative user testing process involved several cycles of user testing and changes to the prototype. The feedback from the user testing process as well as the focus groups will be summarized and explored in this paper. Details of a preliminary game will be presented with a focus on access to technology for older adults, participation as means for prevention and building capacities.

Keywords: Older Adults, Exercise, Falls, Participation, Game Design, User Testing

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp.95-112. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 855.559KB).

Rachel Proffitt

Clinical Researcher, Institute for Creative Technologies, Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Hermon Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Rachel Proffitt, OTD, OTR/L. University of Southern California, USA. Rachel Proffitt received her OTD from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where she was part of the Human Performance Laboratory under the guidance of Dr. Jack Engsberg. Dr. Proffitt completed her Apprenticeship for the OTD at the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) at USC under the guidance of Drs. Belinda Lange and Skip Rizzo, and is currently active in the Game-Based Rehabilitation Lab under the direction of Dr. Lange. Dr. Proffitt was previously an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy at the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, where she taught courses in Qualitative Research and Assistive Technology. Dr. Proffitt is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California, with funding through the T-32 TREET: Training in Rehabilitation Efficacy and Effectiveness Trials. Her current research focuses on the development and testing of video games for effective stroke motor rehabilitation.

Belinda Lange

Senior Researcher, Institute for Creative Technologies, University of Southern California, Playa Vista, CA, USA

Belinda Lange, B.Physio (Hons), PhD. University of Southern California, USA. Belinda Lange is a research scientist at the Institute for Creative Technologies and a research assistant professor in the School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California. She received her Ph.D. and degree in physiotherapy (with honors) from the University of South Australia and her science degree from Flinders University. Lange’s research interests include the use of interactive video game and virtual reality technologies for motor rehabilitation, exergaming, cognitive assessment, postoperative exercise and virtual human character interactions. She is on the Board of Directors of the International Society for Virtual Rehabilitation and is an associate editor for the Journal Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds. Belinda was on the conference program committee for Meaningful Play conference in 2008, 2010 and 2012, co-chaired the Presence 2009 Conference, was on the organizing committee for the rehabilitation track of the Games for Health Conference in 2010, 2011 and 2012, was the workshop chair for the International Virtual Rehabilitation Conference in Zurich in 2011. She is also a co-founder of, a non-profit social network that brings together individuals with disabilities and those undergoing rehabilitation with researchers, clinicians and game industry professionals.


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