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Did you Know Video Games Can Heal the Sick?

By: Aaron Brooks

Games both video and computer have been for years looked down on as evil and a negative influence on society. However, recent research indicates that games play a significant role in healing. Studies indicate that playing games helps divert a patient's mind from pain and for many patients, games are a form of physiotherapy as they exercise the fingers and muscles of the arms and oil the wheels of the mind. In fact, children suffering from autism learn a great many social skills from games they play.

Mark Griffiths, of Nottingham Trent University, has conducted in depth studies on gaming and found that "gaming can be a useful tool in healthcare, games can distract kids and adults undergoing painful treatments." In fact children undergoing chemotherapy for diseases like sickle cell anemia deal with the disease better when they play games that absorb their attention completely. Sick children who occupied their minds playing video or computer games required lower doses of pain medication and tended to suffer less from hypertension and nausea than children who were asked to just rest. According to Griffiths an expert in the field, games benefit children suffering from attention deficit disorders too.

A conference on gaming showcased the fact that computer and video games promoted awareness in nutrition, lifestyle choices, and medical skills. According to experts, games helped reduce stress and healed people with phobias, diabetes, asthma, and cardiac diseases.

Games did not just promote anger and aggression but improved co-ordination skills, focus, and concentration, and steadied elevated blood pressure and pulse beating. Games are now playing a definitive role in therapy. Some games introduce images or stimulus to the mind like aromas or natural happenings like a river flowing or an avalanche. Many studies are focusing on "The state of Cognitive Exercise with digital Game Play," where the use of games in treating diseases like Alzheimer is being addressed.

That gaming is recognized as a healer by medical communities across the US is established by the fact that the "Get-Well Gamers Foundation" collects unused games and consoles from avid gamers for distribution to children's wards at hospitals across the US.

The new regimen in healing is to combine exercises with gaming. For example a patient who needs to be motivated to complete therapy sessions can be induced by connecting the bicycle to a video game that engages the patient's mind. Ciprian Docan of Rutgers University has modified a home video game to assist stroke patients with hand movements and exercises.

Work by Karen Grimmer and her team in Adelaide Women and Children's hospital showed that children suffering from severe burns feel less pain and discomfort when their minds are completely immersed in a virtual reality game. Games therefore served as appositive healing tool and helped children overcome great pan and discomfort.

Contrary to popular beliefs video and computer games do have a positive side and, all over the world serious studies are in progress of how games can be utilized in health care.

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