Video games and medicine, two things that no one would ever think to even put in the same sentence, unless there is a video game where players can play as a doctor. Well, now reports are stating that video games can help treat and cure medical diseases if used in the correct way.
Recently the subject of video games that train someone’s brain has become very controversial, a group of researchers even published a letter in 2014 stating that there is “very little evidence” that training your brain in one area or on a single task will improve cognitive function. Another group of researchers disagreed stating that that a, “substantial and growing body of evidence shows that certain cognitive-training regimens can significantly improve cognitive function, including in ways that generalize to everyday life.”
Video games that supposedly train the mind aren’t anything new in today’s society, children are often given educational video games in the hopes that it will help inspire a love for learning in the future all while teaching them at the same time. A company known as Akili along with the University of California, San Francisco’s Neuroscope lab are developing a mobile game called Project EVO, an app so powerful that it couls possibly help treat children with ADHD and become the world’s first prescription-based video game. Akili was required to go through the process that is required by the FDA as with any drug or medical device. Currently the game is at phase III clinical trial, but after the game completes the entire process Akili will have taken the first step into ushering in a new age of “digital medicine.”
The Verge’s video series known as Next Level decided to explore as to whether or not video games can improve cognitive function, in the video a team lead by Adam Gazzaley at Neuroscope lab has spent 12 years testing whether or not video games can be used to treat brain disorders such as ADHD, autism, depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. In the series Lauren Goode was able to play Project: EVO, Body Brain Trainer, and Labyrinth involved virtual reality through the use of an HTC Vive and a Virtuix Omni platform. Matt Omernick the co-founder and chief creative officer at Akili and Gazzaley stated that they wanted to go beyond simply sitting down and playing video games and instead wanted to create immersive and captivating video games where the player would the players would switch between cognitive challenges that would test the mind and challenges involving physical movement. Despite the controversy surrounding video games being used for educational purposes, let alone medical purposes, with further research and development fro video games that are designed to test the mind and keep the body active, scientists will be able to find how these new prescription video games may be able to help treat known brain disorders. Happy gaming!
Featured Image via Air Force Medical Service