In the world of mental health, any treatment that can help without causing prescription side effects is always welcome. Psychotropic drugs can play havoc with the body even if they do manage to control individual symptoms such as depression or anxiety for a time. The health news headlines constantly make reference to people who are looking for alternative ways to treat mental health problems in an effort to avoid taking daily doses of medication. Here’s one such treatment that has been in development for the past few years: video games.
That’s right;Â “serious video games” (as the medical profession has termed them) are being used to treat a number of issues associated with mental illness. One of the most popular of these games is called “PlayMancer.” PlayMancer has made a name for itself by augmenting existing 3D gaming engines with new healthcare scripts. Its inventors are a multidisciplinary team composed of doctors,Â engineers, and computer experts.
Do these so-called serious games really help people? Although several studies have been conducted showing the Â usefulness of the video games in the treatment of some negative behaviors, one recent clinical trial set out to investigate a little deeper. The purpose of the trial was to develop and evaluate a serious video game designed to remediate attitudinal, behavioral and emotional processes of patients with impulse-related disorders.
The video game was PlayMancer. New interaction modes were added to the game, such as emotion recognition from speech, face and physiological reactions. The game also aimed to get patients to respond impulsively. The video game then used biofeedback to help patients learn relaxation skills, acquire better self-control strategies, and develop new emotional regulation strategies — in other
words, it tried to get them to rethink their impulsive behavior.
This is definitely a treatment to keep an eye on. It’s likely that ongoing improvements to the software will be made as technological advances allow the games to become more and more interactive. Video games have a few advantages over other types of treatment for mental health problems in that they can be used at home, have lower costs associated with individual treatments, and cause little to no physiological side effects.
To find out how Wii gaming is helping people improve their fitness level and even lose a few pounds, read Rehabilitate with Video Games?.