I graduated from the University of Alberta, Canada, in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapist. After working in many different settings with different populations, I found my place at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital; starting first as a clinician working with people with Spinal Cord Injury and General Neurological conditions, and then expanding my role as an Occupational Therapist to include Rehabilitation Technology Leader. In this combined clinical and technology role, I am responsible for introduction and assessment of innovative technology for rehabilitation, as well as fostering relationships with academic and community partners for the purpose of research and product development, to ensure that our facility provides quality and evidence-based care for our patients.
Glenrose Grocery Game
Occupational therapists (OTs) work with clients with cognitive impairments related to a brain injury, stroke or dementia. OTs assess cognitive performance and functional skills for a client’s ability to plan, organize and problem solve. We are using gamification to engage clients in solving tasks related to life skills – specifically grocery shopping. This project is the creation of a “video game” which assesses baseline function, tracks progress, and provides appropriate level of difficulty based on a client’s abilities. Grocery shopping and budgeting are some of the complex tasks that people manage with minimal support when they are living in the community. This project incorporates elements of game design theory so that these tasks are fun and engaging.
Currently there are limited means of assessing cognitive ability associated with grocery shopping in a functional way without taking clients to a grocery store. Therapists rely on paper/pencil and functional cognitive assessments to make recommendations for client safety. The Glenrose Grocery Game looks at these tasks specifically, and challenges the required cognitive skills such as problem solving, attention, memory and money management.
Although it was designed for the geriatric population, it easily applies to the adult and pediatric populations as well. Therapists can set therapeutic goals and difficulty levels for specific cognitive skills. The game may start with making a simple snack for a friend, then progress to more complex meals. The video game is currently played on a large touch screen; however, it is being developed as an App for portable devices.