Imagine if performing physical therapy could be as engaging and entertaining as playing a video game.

That’s the genius behind RxGames, a Columbus startup that makes exercise fun and accessible for people with injuries or disabilities. The goal is to help patients stick with the rehabilitation work that is customized to improve individual outcomes.

“The exciting thing about this company,” said Rob Doone, RxGames President & CEO, “is that we can help therapists and the industry make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Customized Exercise and Therapeutic Monitoring

Studies show that only about half of patients complete at-home clinical therapy, and only about 35 percent attend all their authorized clinic visits.

“The challenge,” Doone said, “is to increase patient engagement and accessibility. The industry is looking for new ways to help people complete therapy and get better. The best way to engage patients is to make them happy doing their exercises.”

With names like Recovery Rapids, Space Escape, Clown Chase, and Pirates Peril, RxGames’ gamified approach to rehabilitation might sound like more play than work, but it’s just the opposite.

Instead of sending a patient home with a to-do list of exercises, a therapist assigns exercises through RxGames. Games can be played at home with minimal equipment. A patient’s body becomes the game controller.

“Patients download the games delivered through a smart phone, which can also be synched and projected with a television screen,” Doone said. “What has helped move this solution forward is the evolution of technology. The hardware is ubiquitous, and the cameras on an iPhone are so good now that they can capture skeletal movements.”

The games change with patient use, mixing things up to keep exercises interesting. The application records patient results and automatically adjusts to become more difficult for the patient that is making progress or adapted to the needs of a patient who may be having more difficulty.

A spinout of The Ohio State University (OSU) and research-based

“The genesis of the business is research done by Co-founders Lynne Gauthier and Roger Crawfis,” said Doone.

Dr. Gauthier, chief scientific officer of RxGames, is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in neuroplasticity and neurorehabilitation. Dr. Crawfis, chief technical officer, brings more than 35 years’ experience in the software industry, with expertise that ranges from scientific computing to visualization and computer games. The RxGames suite of games was designed collaboratively by therapists, scientists, and patients to train balance and strengthen arms, legs, and core.

“They conducted extensive clinical studies about how incorporating video games into therapy can impact patients,” Doone said. “The VIGoROUS Study, a large multi-site study was released last year. This expansive study of 160 patients proved that under the direction of a clinical therapist, using video games enhances therapy outcomes and can be done at the patient’s home without a therapist present.”

RxGames is engaged in beta relationships with several early adopters. “The key to our success is that we make our solution very easy to adopt for therapists and engaging for patients by making them happy doing their exercises,” said Doone.

“Patient engagement is the biggest challenge in our industry. RxGames offers a way to conquer that problem. Therapists and patients achieve better results,” he said.