Gaming is a unique new medical resource

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During a panel at the GamesBeat Summit this week, several experts in the field talked about the evolution of digital entertainment as a new form of treatment. More specifically, they talked about how video games could be used for a variety of healthcare applications, including neurological diseases and even patient care. Panelists were Eddie Martucci, CEO and co-founder of Akili Interactive, Mirelle Phillips, founder of Studio Elsewhere, and Laura Tabacof, assistant professor of rehabilitation at Mount Sinai. Stanley Pierre-Louis, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, moderated the panel.

Martucci’s studio, Akili, produces EndeavorRx, which produces an FDA-approved video game treatment for children with ADHD. As Martucci put it, getting a game approved as a medical treatment isn’t easy: “The road is through clinical trials, so we did clinical trials. large scale like what you would expect from a pharmaceutical product. . We put it through the FDA’s two-year review process for the first time, and EndeavorRx remains the only FDA-approved video game available. It’s been a long, long journey, and I think there’s a lot we can learn in the future.”

Pierre-Louis talked about using games and VR technology to manage pain, and Tabacof agrees that traditional treatments are no longer the only options. “Patients are desperate for these approaches. 20% of the US population lives with chronic pain and only 10% truly feel relief with traditional methods, so our role is to provide better options and readily available technology. willing to support that. We’ve done several clinical trials at Mount Sinai and the results have been amazing for virtual reality and chronic pain.”

Live better thanks to video games

Phillips says that open-world games give patients a glimpse of non-linear paths and show them that failure in care doesn’t always return them to where they were. head: “Everybody’s on a wellness journey and I think the games that do that we’re re-registering they show you the map. The focus of the interaction is the agent. So it’s fundamentally changing the dynamics in healthcare and medicine as something more than just a patriarchal relationship between provider and patient. It’s something that’s basically screwing up the entire system by empowering representation where it is desperately needed.”


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Tabacof notes that the brain plays a major role in chronic pain and that gaming is a better solution than the still widely prescribed opioid drugs. “One of the main problems is the top-down model, where doctors would prescribe something to manage stress or anxiety or say to the patient, ‘Hey, why can’t you breathe?’ But we need to give the patient equipment to learn how to breathe. Technology is here to empower patients and put them first.”

Martucci added that one of the great benefits of video games is that they can be fun. “Now, we want patients to forget that they are using a medicinal product and [feel] that they were just playing a fun video game… I hope that what we learned in the process and design allows us and hopefully other companies to have the facility to carry this variety of products to everyone in the years to come.”

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