A Comparison of Solo and Multiplayer Active Videogame Play in Children with Unilateral Cerebral Palsy

Games Health J. 2012 Aug;1(4):287-93. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2012.0015. Epub 2012 Jul 9.


Objective: Active videogames (AVGs) have potential in terms of physical activity and therapy for children with cerebral palsy. However, the effect of social interaction on AVG play has not yet been assessed. The objective of this study is to determine if multiplayer AVG versus solo affects levels of energy expenditure and movement patterns.

Subjects and methods: Fifteen children (9.77 [standard deviation (SD) 1.78] years old) with hemiplegic cerebral palsy (Gross Motor Function Classification System Level I) participated in solo and multiplayer Nintendo(®) "Wii™ Boxing" (Nintendo, Inc., Redmond, WA) AVG play while energy expenditure and punching frequency were monitored.

Results: Moderate levels of physical activity were achieved with no significant differences in energy measures during multiplayer and solo play. Dominant arm punching frequency increased during the multiplayer session from 95.75 (SD 37.93) punches/minute to 107.77 (SD 36.99) punches/minute. Conversely, hemiplegic arm punching frequency decreased from 39.05 (SD 29.57) punches/minutes to 30.73 (SD 24.74) punches/minutes during multiplayer game play. Children enjoyed multiplayer more than solo play.

Conclusions: Opportunities to play AVGs with friends and family may translate to more frequent participation in this moderate physical activity. Conversely, increased hemiplegic limb use during solo play may have therapeutic advantages. As such, new strategies are recommended to promote use of the hemiplegic hand during multiplayer AVG play and to optimize commercial AVG systems for applications in virtual reality therapy.