Tongue, Rehabilitation, Video Games, Muscle Strength, Equipment and Supplies.


PURPOSE: To investigate the motivation and the effects of: tongue movement direction; resistance force level; repetition number; and sustained tongue contraction duration on tongue motor performance in healthy pre-teen children using computer games. METHODS: An analytical observational cross-sectional study was conducted with 15 healthy 11-13 year-old children with normal lingual strength. The participants played six computer games using a tongue-controlled joystick. The series varied the time for continuous force application on the target (3 and 5 seconds) and the target force level (0.5, 1 and 2 N). After the tests, the participants answered a questionnaire about their impressions and reactions to the game. The variables analyzed were number of attempts to score (NAS), time for which the target force was maintained (TTFM), and the time spent for scoring (TSS). RESULTS: Of 43 normally developing candidates screened for the study, 15 (35%) were included for having entirely normal tongue structure and function and for being able to complete all of the study tasks. Of the 15 participants, 11 (73.3%) said that it was easy to play, three (20.0%) found it a bit hard to play, and only one (6.6%) considered it difficult to play. The results suggest that healthy individuals with normal lingual structure and function are able to successfully perform the games, but those with longer durations of sustained contraction (5 seconds) and the most required force (2 N) are the most difficult. Leftward and upward movements were more difficult than rightward and downward movements. CONCLUSION: All of these carefully selected participants were able to perform all of the study tasks, indicating that this method is feasible for pre-teens with normal lingual structure and function. The joystick device encouraged the participants to perform tongue movements that may be part of the typical orofacial myofunctional treatment exercises for tongue function. Results indicated that this game has the potential to be highly motivating for pre-teen children who are able to perform the tasks.