Spell Tracers: A video game for children developing fine motor skills

Background. Disabilities involving hand activities widely affect children and youths across Canada. Fine motor therapies benefits children and youths with hand disabilities, however they can be costly and hard to access. Home-based therapies can be low-cost and increase accessibility to practice and learn new fine motor skills. Dexteria is a widely used application that helps children and youth practice skills by tracing shapes on a tablet or smartphone at home. Although Dexteria is effective for therapy, the application does not support multiplayer modes and is not motivating to youths. Caregivers and youths have voiced a desire for therapy games with a social component and more appealing game play. To address this gap, researchers and therapists have created Spell Tracers, a video game for fine motor therapies.

Objective. We will answer the question: How does presenting a therapy activity in the form of a multiplayer video game, Spell Tracer, influence the young person’s experience of the activity relative to Dexteria, a non-gamified computer-guided activity? 

Approach. 12 youths aged 6-14 years with a condition impacting fine motor functions will participate in this 8 week study. Half of the participants will play Spell Tracers for 3 weeks. After a 2 week break period, they will play Dexteria for 3 weeks. The other half of participants will play Dexteria first, then Spell Tracers with the same 2 week break period. Youth and caregivers will be asked about their experience with Spell Tracers and Dexteria. We will report whether there is any clinical advantage and any factors influencing outcomes and engagement.  

Impact. Study results will inform future work to establish Spell Tracer as an effective, motivating option for home-based fine motor therapy. We will create new knowledge that will be shared widely.


Researchers

Elaine Biddiss, MASc, PhD

William Barry, MSc

 

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