Gaming in digital therapeutics, the future of healthcare

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Digital technology continues to improve every year as society grows and with it come new ways to include gaming. Specifically, video games enter the medical world for gaming in digital therapeutics. Medical facilities now begin to use gaming as a recovery tool for youth suffering from various conditions. These conditions can range from attention disorders to memory functions and physical relaxation. The best part about these specific treatments? Patients can have fun playing video games while receiving help.

The Digital Therapeutics Alliance, also known as DTA, defines digital therapeutics as “delivering evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients that are driven by high-quality software programs to prevent, manage, or treat a broad spectrum of physical, mental, and behavioral conditions.” Customized gaming software includes itself in that definition and many groups are now beginning to dive into gaming software to tackle mental health challenges.

Boston Children’s Hospital has a team of researchers who revealed that video games can help manage specific conditions and emotional distress. Produced by Mighteor, these games use biofeedback and track heart rates in the human body. They partner heart rate with the in-game difficulty setting. When patients who wear their biofeedback wristband become increasingly stressed or anxious, their heart rate goes up, causing the difficulty to also increase. In order to best get through the gameplay, players need to calm down to reassess themselves and continue playing as the difficulty drops. Succeeding in these games allows patients to gain better mental control over themselves.

“What we’re trying to do is build emotional strength for kids,” said Jason Kahn, co-founder of Mighteor.

In another instance, game developer NeuroPlus showcased their video games, which were found to help kids control medical conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder. To participate, children wear electrophysiological monitors and sensors to measure their muscle tensions and movements. Games then change functions based on the patient’s muscle motions. NeuroPlus’s title called Axon has the player control a dragon that moves faster or slower based on how much the user focuses, forcing them to fine-tune their focus.

Gaming in Digital Therapeutics
Gaming in Digital Therapeutics

Image from Jake Stauch | Kickstarter.

Apart from direct benefits to patients, digital therapeutics and video games merge for doctors too. Osso VR aims to revolutionize surgeries by introducing virtual reality as a practice tool for surgeons. Thanks to this training, medical professionals can experience realistic situations and hone their skills before working on living patients. Although virtual reality isn’t the same as gaming, this form of digital therapeutics saw inspiration from video games before the concepts carried over to surgeons.

This is just the start of the effects video games can have on digital therapeutics. Technology continues to evolve and so will the cross usage from seemingly different activities. Currently, gaming in digital therapeutics specializes in youth and children with medical problems. Patients with ADHD, ADD, autism, multiple sclerosis and depression have seen reduced symptoms when trying these specialized treatments. In the near future, the range of targets can increase with all ages starting to express interest in video games and esports.

The world of video games and esports continues to take over the world. Gaming and esports becoming an engine for medical usage also massively increases public interest in it. With esports news made nearly every day, fans around the world will soon catch up with this digitalization. Features like biofeedback, virtual reality and spacial recognition are still developing with technology, leading to more innovative ways to empower the world. At this rate, gaming in digital therapeutics may even become the future of healthcare with gaming in medicine.

Digital Therapies
Digital Therapies

Source: Nursing School Hub

Written by Justin Amin

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