Game-based rehabilitation for children with cerebral visual impairment

KU Leuven
September 20 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Departement of Development and Regeneration, is recruiting a motivated researcher with specific interest in cerebral visual impairment. In collaboration with the Centre For Developmental Disorders Leuven, we have built up extensive expertise in the diagnosis and evaluation of cerebral visual impairment (CVI). This comprises the development of new techniques in the evaluation of CVI (medische imaging and clinical evaluation) and newer techniques in training visual-perceptual skills.

It concerns a translational study that directly contributes to the innovation and refinement of therapy interventions.

Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) is the most common cause of visual disability in children and adults in developed countries (1-2 cases per 1000 live births). It concerns a neurological disorder, caused by damage in the brain. A person with CVI usually has normal eye function, but processing visual information in the brain is hindered. This results in a complex variation of symptoms, ranging from problems with object, shape and face recognition to problems with visual memory, orientation and motion perception. Each child with CVI therefore presents a nearly unique patient profile.

Interactive video gaming is highly popular with children. Hence, digital gaming is increasingly being used in different forms of therapy to strengthen motivation and to increase effectiveness. However, in spite of the growing number of application areas and evidence for effectiveness of game-based rehabilitation, children with CVI are generally excluded from gaming activities. Very few games exist that are specifically developed for children with CVI, neither for therapy nor for fun.This is surprising because, as perceptual learning has proved to be an efficient method to improve visual functioning in both children and adults with a variety of visual perceptual deficits.

Special-purpose games for children with CVI which are able to adapt to the patients' specific needs are required. Such games should provide customization of visual aspects, but also the use of adaptive interfaces and gameplay whereby research should test which gamification techniques translate best to different therapeutic contexts so as to achieve optimal levels of motivation in the different target populations. It concerns a 3 year project (FWO-TBM) , which runs in a multidisciplinary cooperation between the Department of Development and Regeneration of the KU Leuven, Centrum Ganspoel, the Department of Communication Sciences (UGent) en the Department of Electronics and Informatics (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) are central. We have a large network in Flanders and internationally.

The project has as a final goal the development of an evidence-based therapeutic and adaptive game for children with CVI.

The PhD candidate of KU Leuven is responsible for the development of a scientifically sound quantified visual profile of the children, which is a first step in the development of adaptivity in gaming. The project will comprise fundamental reseach (differentiation of the visual perceptual capacities and development of a framework to develop the quantified visual profile), as well as more clinical tasks such as assessment of the participating children. The PhD candidate will cooperate with the engineer/IT of VUB that will develop the game and with the researcher of UGent that will perform the user-evaluation.

The final goal of the project is to develop a motivational, automated, adaptive gamification therapy platform to train specific visual perceptual skills in children with CVI. This has the final aim to improve and personalize visual perceptual therapy for children with CVI.

The different objectives to achieve this goal will be

- To map and quantify the visual (perceptual) profile of children with CVI based on the objective results of the visual perceptual assessment: The first objective is to map, combine and quantify the specific visual perceptual deficits extracted from different test results. This will enable automatic definition of avisual profile of a child and thus the entry level/ degree of difficulty foreach mini-game.

- To develop attractive game-scenarios that are suitable for training visual perceptual deficits- an extensive requirementanalysis will be performed to define the possible exercise paradigms for the visuoperceptual skills, the required ranges of difficulty levels and resulting restrictions on possible game scenarios. Requirements will be defined in close interaction with all involved stakeholders (children, parents,caretakers, therapists and educators) applying extensive prototype-evaluation.  This will finally result in two age-appropriate game-scenarios.

- To develop a customized, adaptive gaming system that uses the quantified visual profile of a child and thereby enables the child to play at the correct level;

- To develop anadapted version of the relative enjoyment scale for measuring quality ofexperience with young children with CVI;

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess