Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Games Based Healing

As you may have gathered from our blog title and posts, we think games are a great tool for learning and lots of research backs us up.  However, there are also amazing ways that games are being designed and used to heal people with various disorders.  I have selected a few of the best stories below.  Please share any more stories you have in the comments section below.

Cystic Fibrosis
This game (see link below) has been designed for children with Cystic Fibrosis.  It will enable them to learn to control their respiratory function in a fun and engaging way from home, to supplement their daily physical therapy.  It is a learning tool as much as a physical therapy tool and should help them learn important skills early on.  A number of mini-games and in-game configuration tools help keep the important therapy tool exciting for young children with the condition.  For more information and to see a quick video click here.

You may have heard of Nintendo’s Brain Training game.  Well this sort of game has sparked medical interest and games are currently being developed and tested for use by people with dementia.  They aim to keep brains active and help people with dementia learn new skills in a fun way.  Poor memory and concentration are problems with this disorder and games might just be the best way of keeping attention and intrigue.  See this article for more information.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Research has found that playing Tetris after a traumatic event helps lower the number of flashbacks of the event.  It is not entirely clear why this is the case, but Tetris may act as a protector.  Partaking in an engaging visual-spatial task may prevent some of the traumatic images making their way into long-term memory storage.  However, tests are also being conducted to see if games can help reduce flashbacks even after some time has passed since the traumatic event.  For more information please read this article.

Video games have been found to help children with dyslexia read more quickly without any cost to accuracy.  The study used a fast-moving game that required high degrees of cognitive and perceptual skills as well as peripheral processing.  The games improved the children’s ability to extract relevant information as well as sustain longer visual attention.  The effects of playing the game were equivalent to more than a year’s worth of reading development.  Please read these articles for more information: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21619592 and http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/03/action-packed-video-games-may-help-dyslexic-kids-learn-to-read/.

I have discussed video games and autism previously ('Unorthodox Uses of Games in Education') regarding the XBox and the Nintendo Wii helping people on the Autistic spectrum with social skills.  This game has been developed to try and simulate some of the issues that sufferers have to contend with.  I have also come across an Internet portal of games for children on the Autism spectrum.  The games are designed to help autistic children learn independent living skills such as deciding on clothes to match the weather and teaching that eye contact can be useful when communicating.

The Circus Challenge Game has been developed to help stroke victims recover motor functions.  It is designed to be a fun experience that will encourage people to continue their therapy at home.  There is a problem with a shortage of therapists, so it is hoped that people can continue their own therapy at home in a way that doesn’t feel like therapy.  For more information click here.


I just came across this video from GameSpot about video games and depression and felt I should update this post.  Please watch:

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