Development and Co-design of NeuroOrb: A Novel "Serious Gaming" System Targeting Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson's Disease

Front Aging Neurosci. 2022 Mar 29;14:728212. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2022.728212. eCollection 2022.


Whilst Parkinson's disease (PD) is typically thought of as a motor disease, a significant number of individuals also experience cognitive impairment (CI), ranging from mild-CI to dementia. One technique that may prove effective in delaying the onset of CI in PD is cognitive training (CT); however, evidence to date is variable. This may be due to the implementation of CT in this population, with the motor impairments of PD potentially hampering the ability to use standard equipment, such as pen-and-paper or a computer mouse. This may, in turn, promote negative attitudes toward the CT paradigm, which may correlate with poorer outcomes. Consequently, optimizing a system for the delivery of CT in the PD population may improve the accessibility of and engagement with the CT paradigm, subsequently leading to better outcomes. To achieve this, the NeuroOrb Gaming System was designed, coupling a novel accessible controller, specifically developed for use with people with motor impairments, with a "Serious Games" software suite, custom-designed to target the cognitive domains typically affected in PD. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the usability of the NeuroOrb through a reiterative co-design process, in order to optimize the system for future use in clinical trials of CT in individuals with PD. Individuals with PD (n = 13; mean age = 68.15 years; mean disease duration = 8 years) were recruited from the community and participated in three co-design loops. After implementation of key stakeholder feedback to make significant modifications to the system, system usability was improved and participant attitudes toward the NeuroOrb were very positive. Taken together, this provides rationale for moving forward with a future clinical trial investigating the utility of the NeuroOrb as a tool to deliver CT in PD.

Keywords: Parkinson’s; brain training; co-design; cognitive impairment; cognitive training; dementia; serious games.