Video Game Helps Cancer Patients Combat Their Illness

August 07, 2008 06:04 AM
by Josh Katz
A study revealing that a video game could help cancer patients follow their prescribed course of medication highlights alternative and beneficial uses of video games.

30-Second Summary

A study led by Dr. Pamela M. Kato of the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands indicated that young cancer patients who played the video game "Re-Mission" for a certain amount of time adhered to their cancer medications more closely than those who played the video game "Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb."

In Re-Mission, players try to destroy cancer cells and stay healthy. "According to Kato, the game worked because it gave the patients a new way of looking at their illness; for example, thinking of chemo as a way to combat cancer, rather than as an annoyance that makes their hair fall out," Reuters reports.

East Carolina researcher Carmen Russoniello will conduct similar research this fall, as he “will hand sickle cell anemia patients video game controllers and see whether playing the games helps them control stress and reduce pain caused by their disease,” the Associated Press reports.

Researchers are also now using the game “Virtual Iraq” to treat soldiers returning from the war who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The game, meant to simulate the sights and senses of being a soldier in Iraq, is meant to be a safe way for soldiers to open up to therapists about their feelings. The Department of Defense has now dedicated $5 million to virtual therapy.

In a BBC piece, game consultant Margaret Robertson said, “it likely won’t be long before you find yourself coming home from the doctor’s with a prescription for a game rather than a course of pills."

Headline Link: ‘Video game helps young cancer patients take meds’

Background: Video game therapy

Related Topic: Video games and violence

Opinion & Analysis: Video games: friend or foe?


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