Video Games May Be Used to Treat ADHD
> 3/17/2006 9:49:08 AM

The relationship between video games and the field of medicine has always been a tenuous one to say the least. But, as USA Today reports, a clinical psychologist from Melbourne, Florida, is trying to change that. Henry Owens has developed a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that makes use of a home video gaming console and a unique patent held by NASA laboratories.

Called S.M.A.R.T. Brain Games, the system monitors EEG feedback from sensors placed on the head of the subject while they play a video game. The system disrupts the gamers connection to the game if they lose focus on the activity at hand. In this way, Owens says that the system helps to train ADHD sufferers to focus by literally changing the way they think.

"If they just play video games on their own, they will zone out," he says. "When they play on this system, if they zone out, the video game doesn't respond any more," acting as an incentive to improve focus and concentration.

That comes through controlling brain-wave activity, which some researchers say is too slow or too fast in certain areas of the brain when patients have ADHD.

Video game play is a form of neuro-feedback, Owens says, which teaches patients to self-regulate brain-wave patterns to improve learning.

According to Owens, racing games or side-scrollers, games that provide constant feedback, are the best because they keep the player constantly focused (as opposed to an RPG where gamers minds can wander without in game reprisals).

The system is not universally revered though, and some doctors worry that an alluring "cure" like Owens' might draw patients away from treatments that might better serve their needs. This may in fact be the system's biggest drawback.

Although it doesn't come cheap (~$600, not covered by insurance), the S.M.A.R.T system looks to be an interesting development, and one that might hold some promise. There are many different levels of severity of ADHD, and used in conjunction with therapy and possibly pharmacological treatments, Owens's system could be a key to greater treatment success and positive outcomes. Psychologists should take it on themselves to explore this new technology and find out if it's something that could work in their practice. Do not let the fact that video games are the mode of delivery eliminate the possibility of a helpful treatment.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy