Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) or dyspraxia is either a marked or serious impairment in the development of motor coordination that significantly interferes with academic achievement, daily living skills, or both. Motor difficulties might arise from poor planning, and lack of understanding or cognitive difficulties in associating a task with movements. The main affected areas are gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and sensorial integration. One kind of intervention for this problem is physical therapy or motor training. It consists of the execution of different physical exercises. The key of successful motor training program is combination of correctly performed practice of functional skills, appropriate repetition, and sufficient guidance and time to facilitate skills retention and generalization. However, there are some important concerns about physical therapy: task-repetition sometimes is boring for children, in real life, children don’t have a therapist or specialist at their side helping them to practice motor functions, and these kind of interventions still lack some realism to help children generalize from the therapy-room to other environments. Despite all that, the most important concern is that children have to do the therapy exercises every day and is difficult for a public center to attend children 24 hours seven days a week, “anywhere and at anytime”. Additionally, it is difficult for the parents to take their children to therapy every day.

One possible solution to this problem is the use of exergames due to their capability to combine physical activity with the exergaming, making the physical activity more engaging and fun for children. In addition, we think that an exergame can be played in home several times a week without the need of a therapist. And the most important thing, we can use the exergame to improve motor coordination and to promote motor skills generalization in children.

Building in our initial literature review we conducted a qualitative study to uncover the type of exercises children with DCD experience during physical therapy and inform the design of Froggy Bobby (our first prototype) –an exergame to support the skills generalization for children with motor skills problems.

We found out physical therapies involve a combination of coordination movements to help children reach specific motor goals. Goals involve the practicing of motor functions to help children in different motor skills, i.e., arm movements to practice dressing, catching or throwing. Children do not do the activity of dressing (for example) during therapy, instead of they do the necessary movements to achieve the skill.

Following an interactive user-centered design methodology we used the results of the qualitative study to iteratively design several low-fidelity prototypes (see Figure 1) that exploit the movement’s experience of children with DCD in the physical therapy. The low-fidelity prototypes were discussed during several participatory design sessions that help us to select the more appropriate prototype for improve motor coordination and to achieve skills generalization.

We envisioned Froggy Bobby, an interactive exergame where children use a frog avatar, which asks children to move their arms from side to side in a coordinated manner controlling the frog’s tongue to catch flies. The game uses different issues to maintain the children in the game zone (e. g, difficult levels, points, avatar personalization, and powerful flies). Additionally, the game is adapted to the child´s movements (i. e., physical ability of the child) through a baseline taken at the beginning of the game. At the side of skills generalization, after of each level, the child have to play a mini-game where he/she has to use the previously practiced movements to achieve some specific motor skill (e.g., dressing or throw a ball).

We evaluated the design of the exergame with typical children (n=24), and we receive feedback that we will use for improving the design of FroggyBobboy. We are currently developing the game, and we plan to deploy it in a clinic attending children with dyspraxia to see the game’s impact in motor skills generalization.

 In collaboration with Ana I. Martinez-Garcia (CICESE)

Project participants

Ivan Zavala, M.Sc., Research Assistant (see more about ivan …)
e: izavala[at]cicese[dot]edu[dot]mx
Research …
Denisse Soto, interaction designer (see more about Denisse …)
e: denisoce0204[at]icloud[dot]com
Research inte …
Karina Caro, Ph.D. Student (see more about karina ...)
e: karicaro[at]cicese[dot]edu[dot]mx
Browse publications of Kari …

Monica Tentori, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (see more about monica …)
e: mten …

Related publications to the project

  • Caro, K., Tentori, M, Martinez-Garcia, A. I., Zavala-Ibarra, I. (2015) FroggyBobby: An exergame to support children with motor problems practicing motor coordination exercises during therapeutic interventions, Computers in Human Behavior, ISSN: 0747-5632,

  • Caro, K. (2013). “Exergames for Children with Motor Skills Problems”. The 15th ACM SIGACCESS International Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2013). Bellevue, Washington, USA. October 20-23.

  • Caro, K., Cibrian, F. L., Escobedo, L., Ramirez, C., Martínez-García, A. I. and Tentori, M., (2013) “Froggy Bobby: An Exergame for Children with Motor Skills Problems”. Workshop on “Ubiquitous games and gamification for promoting behavior change and wellbeing”. 10th edition of CHI Italy. Trento, Italy. September 16