News / Health

Video Game Helps Empower Kids with Cancer

Kids play the University of Utah’s Patient Empowerment (PE) video game, September 19, 2012.  (University of Utah)
Kids play the University of Utah’s Patient Empowerment (PE) video game, September 19, 2012. (University of Utah)
Jessica Berman
Health experts have long known that video games can be helpful in the treatment of various medical conditions.  Now, U.S. researchers are developing an electronic game specifically designed for children with cancer that empowers them to use their minds and bodies to fight their disease.

Video games are nothing new in the treatment of childhood illnesses.  Electronic games are used in therapeutic settings to raise asthma awareness and encourage medication use among youngsters, and popular games such as WII Fit promote physical activity, helping get overweight children at risk of diabetes up and moving to lose weight. Such games have been shown to help kids take control of and manage their health conditions.   

Now, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine have designed a computer simulation game specifically for children with cancer.  The prototype uses a controller from Sony's Play Station 3 console, and allows young cancer patients to select a character, or avatar, to represent them in five challenging scenarios.

Pediatric cancer specialist Carol Bruggers helped develop the simulation.

"One is a crab bash game, and one is a trash pickup game, one is under the boardwalk, one is a crab throw game and one is building a defense wall," she said.  "And these vignettes are cartoon representations of different aspects of fighting a disease."

Bruggers says the suite of games, which has the very unexciting name, Patient Empowerment (PE) has been well-received in a trial involving a small group of cancer patients.

In her study, Bruggers says her long-term goals for these children are to develop resilience as measured by brain activity, and to improve physical and cardiovascular conditioning, which can mean shorter hospital stays.

Still to be determined, according to Bruggers, is whether kids with cancer who play games such as PE have better outcomes.

A screen shot of the University of Utah’s Patient Empowerment (PE) video game. (University of Utah)A screen shot of the University of Utah’s Patient Empowerment (PE) video game. (University of Utah)
x
A screen shot of the University of Utah’s Patient Empowerment (PE) video game. (University of Utah)
A screen shot of the University of Utah’s Patient Empowerment (PE) video game. (University of Utah)
"One thing that we are really excited about is just thinking in terms about self-empowerment, control over one's diseases," she noted.  "Our hope is that it's not limited to pediatric oncology patients.  Our hope is that it can be used in diverse populations with all kinds of diseases."

Bruggers' ultimate goal is to tailor PE to patients both in and out of the hospital, with a wide variety of ailments, including neurological stroke, Parkinson's disease and memory problems.  

A commentary describing the Patient Empowerment game, developed by Carol Bruggers and colleagues at the University of Utah, is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid