Multi-player online video games for cognitive rehabilitation for the brain injured

  • Jason Edward Colman

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Every year, millions of people suffer a stroke, and millions more sustain a traumatic brain injury. This thesis proposes that playing multi-player online video games could provide a form of therapy for brain-injured people. The original contribution to knowledge comprises a conceptual framework for this claim, the design of a game to be used as a research instrument, and the findings of pilot studies, conducted with brain-injured participants.
An initial literature review led to the formation of the core proposal. In order to conduct experimental research with brain-injured participants, ethical approval was sought and obtained from the Faculty of Technology Ethics Committee at the University of
The first phase of the study concentrated on the iterative development of a prototype online multi-player game, which encouraged cooperative, altruistic interaction. This research instrument included integrated cognitive tests.
The second phase of the research was to conduct pilot studies with brain-injured
participants. The aim of these studies was to refine the experimental method and the software design, and to gather results to determine whether a larger research project would be warranted.
The first experiment was conducted over four weeks in 2013. Results from the cognitive tests did not show any improvement due to playing the video game, but methodological issues were discovered, and were used to refine the experimental protocol and software.
The second experiment was conducted over eight weeks in 2014. New tests integrated with the game software measured loneliness and satisfaction with life. These results showed promise for online multi-player games to have the potential to provide emotional and cognitive therapeutic benefit. It is argued that further research in this area is warranted, and recommendations are provided for such work.
Date of AwardSept 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorPaul Gnanayutham (Supervisor), Jim Briggs (Supervisor), Louise Turner (Supervisor) & Alice Good (Supervisor)

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