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

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora