A lot of people seem to think that video games can contribute to poor attention spans, ADD, and ADHD, but one gaming company is banking on the fact that they may actually help treat those very conditions.
Akili Interactive Labs has been working on developing games for treatment of ADHD since 2011 and a new report says that they are near the end of their study and now hopes they might be the first video game that is prescribed by doctors. Their study, which consisted of 3-48 pre-teen children, tracked the subjects as they played the game over the course of four weeks. The result of the game play seems to be drastic improvements in the children’s ability to control their rehabilitation and their overall behavior. They were also able to show that the effect of the specially designed game was vastly more effective than different games that were given to children as the control.
Akili’s video game, which is played on a tablet, sends players down a molten lava river and through an icy winter wonderland, rewarding them with stars and points as they complete tasks. Akili sees the video game as the delivery system for targeted algorithms that act as a medical device to activate certain neural networks. That’s a different category than existing apps and games that help patients manage their disease, such as those that deliver cognitive behavioral therapy or help patients track symptoms or monitor their glucose levels.
the standard course of treatment for these drugs would be one 30-minute session of the game five days a week for four weeks. In the study, just 11 of the children had any adverse reactions, most of which were either headaches or frustration with the game. When compared to the number of patients that have adverse reactions to prescription ADHD meds or or the severity of those side effects, it sounds like this could be an amazing new path for the future of medicine.
This isn’t the first time that video games have been been considered for medicinal uses. Games are currently used to help spinal cord and amputation victims rehab from their injuries and there is another company who is looking at using gaming technology to help in the future of Alzheimer’s screening.
Akili is also looking into a variation of their new video game treatment that they think could be useful in helping ease symptoms in adults who are suffering from depression.