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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid