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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid