Conference Abstracts - Jason Sidman

Adaptive Game for Auditory Training and Evaluation

Jason Sidman, Ph.D.
Aptima, Inc.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been called the signature wound of the Iraq War. As of April, 2008, blasts from rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), land mines, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have been one of the frequent causes of injuries. While improvements in body armor and helmets have increased overall survival rates, they do not prevent head traumas. Walter Reed Army Medical Center reports that 59 percent of its blast-exposed patients have been diagnosed with TBI (Okie, 2005), with 56% of those cases considered moderate or severe and 44% considered to be mild. TBI results in a broad range of physical, cognitive, and sensory impairments. Common symptoms associated with TBI are headaches, sleep disturbances, and sensitivity to light and sound. Cognitive deficits in attention, memory, reaction time, and problem-solving are also frequently observed.

Individuals with TBI are often required to go through extensive rehabilitation in order to lessen the impact of their TBI-related deficits on their daily activities. Rehabilitation typically involves repeated engagement in tasks that necessitate the use of skills to be improved and, in its traditional form, can be rather tedious and inefficient; a problem that can lead to poor adherence. Cutting-edge technology - such as serious games and virtual reality techniques - has the potential to help individuals achieve optimal levels of functioning while keeping them motivated and engaged. The goal of Adaptive Game for Auditory Training and Evaluation (AGATE) is to develop a videogame that is engaging and uses adaptive strategies to reliably facilitate rehabilitation and improve cognitive skills in individuals with TBI. AGATE consists of an engaging, cyber-spy-themed videogame scenario that is designed to train and improve cognitive skills associated with auditory processing deficits due to TBI, such as attention, working memory, and speed of processing. The game offers the following features:

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