Exergaming in dementia

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NetherlandsVU University Medical Centre Netherlands
Early Stage Researcher (ESR7)

Joeke van der Molen-van Santen

Joeke van Santen

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Prof. Rose-Marie Droes

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Dr Franka Meiland

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Hello, I am Joeke, I finished my MSc Clinical Mental Health Sciences at University College London in September 2016. I have graduated in Applied Psychology (MSc) at London Metropolitan University and have a bachelor in Communication and Management from the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht (the Netherlands).

My interests lie in psychology, dementia and robust, meaningful research. Prior to going into psychology, I have worked for several years in the communications industry. Having lived in London for 3.5 years, I am very excited to start a PhD as an INDUCT team member and to return to Amsterdam.

Start date September 2016
Duration 36 months


The ESR will perform literature and web reviews to study the best exergames and conditions for optimal implementation of exergames for community dwelling people with dementia and their family carers. The best applications will be selected and field tested working with people with dementia and their carers to identify which applications are most likely to be popular, feasible and beneficial. An in depth evaluation and randomised control trial will assess clinical benefits to mood, cognition, fitness and quality of life of persons with dementia and their carers in comparison with usual care. Many people with dementia experience social exclusion and reduce their activities, so they have inadequate physical exercise and mental stimulation resulting in poor quality of life. Exergaming (exercises in a gaming environment) via a platform such as Wii, Kinect or Playstation is popular in younger adults and preliminary work suggests it will be useful for older people with dementia.

Expected Results

This study will provide an in depth review of promising exergaming application with good potential for use in people with dementia. Detailed information about feasibility, popularity and preferences will generate guidance about which applications are most likely to be used in practice and the projected levels of adherence. The evaluation will potentially improve mood, behaviour problems, cognition, fitness, and quality of life (of the persons with dementia and their carers) and will decrease psychotropic medication use for the person with dementia while being cost effective in practice.

Planned secondment(s)

The first secondment of 3 months will be with Silverfit who design and implement exergames for people with dementia in care settings. In the last year a secondment of 3 months at the management level of a care organisation (e.g. IDES) to learn about implementation issues at an organisational level. Industrial involvement will include suppliers of exergaming interventions and contacts already exist via the Dutch Coalition of Applied Gaming and previous research collaborations with Silverfit and the company for Embedded Fitness.



Joeke van Santen, Rose-Marie Dröes, Marije Holstege, Olivier Blanson Henkemans, Annemieke van Straten, Ralph de Vries, Annelies van Rijn, Franka Meiland. Effects of exergaming on people with dementia: a systematic literature review. PROSPERO 2016:CRD42016053633 Available at

Van Santen, J., Dröes, R.M., Holstege, M., Blanson Henkemans, O., Van Rijn, A. , de Vriese, R., Van Straten, A., Meiland, F. (2018) Effects of Exergaming in People with Dementia: Results of a Systematic Literature Review. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 63 (2018) 741–760. DOI 10.3233/JAD-170667 (Full text available here)

Joeke van Santen, Rose-Marie Dröes, Judith E. Bosmans, Olivier A. Blanson Henkemans, Sjef van Bommel, Esther Hakvoort, Ronald Valk, Carla Scholten, Joris Wiersinga, Annemieke van Straten, Franka Meiland (2019) The (cost-) effectiveness of exergaming in people living with dementia and their informal caregivers: protocol for a randomized controlled trial. BMC Geriatrics 19:50 (2019). DOI 10.1186/s12877-019-1062-x (Full text available here)

Joeke van Santen, Rose-Marie Dröes, Marian Schoone, Olivier A. Blanson Henkemans, Judith E. Bosmans, Sjef van Bommel, Esther Hakvoort, Ronald Valk, Carla Scholten, Joris Wiersinga, Marjolein Smit, Franka Meiland (2019). FACTSHEET Exergaming for people living with dementia: can you move along? Recommendations to promote successful implementation [in Dutch: FACTSHEET Exergaming voor mensen met dementie: beweeg je mee? Adviezen ter bevordering van succesvolle implementatie]. (Full text available here)

Vermeer, Y., van Santen, J., Charlesworth, G. and Higgs, P. (2020), “People with dementia and carers online discussing surveillance”, Journal of Enabling Technologies, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

Van Santen, J., Dröes, R. M., Twisk, J. W., Henkemans, O. A. B., van Straten, A., & Meiland, F. J. (2020). Effects of Exergaming on Cognitive and Social Functioning of People with Dementia: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, ISSN 1525-8610,



Alzheimer Europe newsletter April 2017 – INDUCT project 7 is researching the (cost-)effectiveness of exergaming for people living with dementia and their (informal) caregivers – – page 5

INDUCT newsletter Spring 2017 – Time flies! – – page 1

Alzheimer Europe newsletter June 2018 – 25 June: INDUCT project is investigating exergaming in dementia and offered an exceptional opportunity for training at SilverFit – – Download 2018-06, page 9

INDUCT newsletter Spring 2018 – ESR7 volunteers at a day centre for people living with dementia, Exergaming in daycare centres: diving into daily practice – – page 4