A Prescription for Gaming to Treat ADHD?


From the humble beginnings of Pac Man and Donkey Kong to the faster-paced days of MarioKart, and now to the advent of Angry Birds and Pokemon Go!, children can enjoy the thrills of video games anyplace, anytime. For better or worse, gaming is everywhere, and becoming more sophisticated by the year. But a doctor-prescribed videogame? It may not be as far off as you’d think. Imagine an engaging iPad-based game that helps children improve their attention. One that has cutting edge graphics that rival commercial video games. 

Wall Street Journal article recently explored the burgeoning field of gaming for health, and that’s exactly the aim of a study being led by CAR’s Dr. Benjamin Yerys. He is the principal investigator for a study testing of Project: EVO, a state-of-the-art video game designed by Boston-based Akili Interactive Labs, as an intervention for children with a dual diagnosis of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  It’s a fun and challenging game to play in and of itself, but this is no ordinary video game- If successful, their game would be the first to be approved for medical use by the FDA, to improve attention in children with autism and ADHD. 

“Fewer children with ASD and ADHD diagnoses respond to medications for ADHD than what we see in children with ADHD,” explains Dr. Yerys, “so it is important to test if creative approaches to new interventions can help improve attention for this group of kids. Our team has just completed a pilot study to determine if Project EVO was acceptable and feasible for children with ASD and their families. We look forward to submitting these results for a conference presentation soon!”

Check out these articles from Buzzfeed and NPR to learn more about Project EVO.

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