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During a panel discussion at GamesBeat Summit this week, several experts in the field spoke about the rise of digital entertainment as a new form of treatment. More specifically, they talked about how video games can be used for a variety of healthcare applications, including neurological diseases and even patient care. The panelists were Eddie Martucci, the CEO and co-founder of Akili Interactive, Mirelle Phillips, the 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, an FDA-cleared video game treatment for children with ADHD. As Martucci said, getting a game approved as a medical treatment wasn’t easy: “The route was to get it fully through clinical trials, so we did large-scale clinical trials, just like you’d expect a pharmaceutical product to do. ” . We put it through the FDA’s two-year review process for the first time, and EndeavorRx is still the only FDA-approved video game on the market. It’s been a long journey, it’s taken a long time and I think we can learn a lot now for the future.”
Pierre-Louis spoke about using gaming and VR technology to treat pain and Tabacof agreed that traditional treatments are no longer the only option. “Patients urgently want such approaches. 20% of the American population suffers from chronic pain, and only 10% actually feel relief with traditional methods. So it’s our job to provide better options, and that’s what technology is for. We did some clinical trials on Mount Sinai and the results have been excellent for virtual reality and chronic pain.”
Better life through video games
Phillips said that open-world games offer patients a glimpse into non-linear pathways, showing them that a setback in care doesn’t always bring them back to square one: “Everyone’s on a health journey and I think what games do.” do, we do.” If you reapply, it will show you there is a card. At the heart of interactivity is freedom of choice. So it is fundamentally changing the dynamics of healthcare and medicine, which is not just limited to the paternalistic relationship between provider and patient. It’s something that basically defies the entire system by giving it room to maneuver where it’s badly needed.”
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Tabacof found that the brain plays an important role in chronic pain and that gaming is a better solution than the still commonly prescribed opioid drugs. “One of the main problems is the top-down model, where doctors just prescribe something to manage stress or anxiety, or tell patients, ‘Hey, why aren’t you breathing?’ But we need to give patients tools to learn how to breathe. Technology is here to empower patients and put them first.”
Martucci added that one of the great things about video games is that they can be fun. “Right now we want patients to forget they are using a medicine and [feel] that they’re just playing a fun video game… I hope that what we’ve learned and the design will allow us, and hopefully other companies, to bring many of these types of products to people in the years to come.”
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