Communities and Engagement

Students Make Rehabilitation Fun for Seniors


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A physiotherapist from Metta Welfare Association (seated) giving Year 4 Biomedical Engineering Student Low Li Ting (standing) her opinion on the visibility of the colours displayed.

2 July 2021

How can fun and engaging exercises be included into a “balance-and-fall programme” that is designed to prevent and reduce falls among the elderly? Four engineering students were tasked to take up a challenge statement posed by the Metta Welfare Association.

In Semester 2 of AY2020, Shanmugam Sangeetha, Foong Zi Ning Anthea, Ayshath Zaseela and Low Li Ting ventured into the field of gerontechnology to rethink rehabilitation for the elderlies.

The team members, who are all in their final year, came up with TACGO* – a multi-player game system that combines Tic-Tac-Toe and Bingo. Using a simple gaming process, the game has four different components to gamify a rehabilitative treatment.

*TACGO is coined by combining Tic-TAC-Toe and BinGO

How TACGO works

Each player is equipped with their individual TACGO Board, resistance band vest, foot pedal and a ball dispenser which are all connected but placed apart. The player pedals until a coloured ball is produced by the ball dispenser. The player will then engage their core muscles to go against the resistance band vest to acquire the ball and match it to the correct colour on the TACGO board. This stimulates the player’s cognitive abilities and trains their hand eye coordination. The first player to match three in a row wins.

TACGO parts
The TACGO board and its accompanying components.

Constructing and Testing the Prototype

Supported by OSA’s Community Engagement Fund (CEF), the team procured and developed the different components of TACGO. They then conducted multiple rounds of adjustments after consulting their professor and the physiotherapists at the Metta Day Rehabilitation Centre for the Elderly to ensure that the game was safe for the elderly.

The prototype was very well received by the seniors at the rehabilitation centre as it was a strategic and fast-paced game. “Overall, it is a game that is simple yet thrilling enough. It was enjoyable to have something different and new to offer a different perspective into rehabilitation,” commented the staff from Metta. They also expressed their interest in getting more TACGO units at the centre, thereby proving its effectiveness and entertainment value.

tacgo elderly explaining colours on the board

Elderly playing with the prototype under the supervision of a physiotherapist from Metta and NUS student Low Li Ting.

“It has been a very humbling yet exciting journey for the organising committee and we definitely met our learning objectives,” Sangeetha reflected after seeing how the team’s theoretical knowledge was incorporated into a full working product using Design Thinking.

Together with Anthea, the Engineering duo are currently further developing their prototype under the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) Community Engagement Initiative, bGood, so that they can share it with more non-profit organisations in Singapore.

Contributor

Office of Student Affairs, Community Engagement