Video games are thought to be addictive, but they can also have beneficial effects on health.

What if tomorrow your doctor prescribes hours of video games for you? The idea may seem absurd, given that the video game is regularly described as addictive. However, it can also have health benefits and prove to be a valuable tool in pain management.

Video game therapy has different applications… The games were designed to divert the attention of patients during difficult manipulations and reduce pain during rehabilitation. It is also used for by stimulating patients with neurodegenerative diseases and thereby helping to slow the progression of the disease…”explains Catherine Rolland, Chair of Science and Video Games at the Ecole Polytechnique de Paris.

Read also: Helpy, a video game designed for caregivers and their sick relatives.

Individual games

With this in mind, the developers have created games specifically tailored to the needs of practitioners and patients.

Like voracious fish, a game designed to promote the rehabilitation of the upper limbs of stroke victims. AT voracious fish, the player embodies the hungry fish that he controls by using a joystick, mouse or directly on the tablet. The goal is to make the fish grow by eating other fish. The patient performs various game actions with his hand, while practicing classic functional rehabilitation exercises in a motivating environment., Details Catherine Rolland.

Distract the patient’s attention

When we play a video game, we are in a state of maximum concentration called ” flow “. That’s the whole point of the game, to capture the player’s attention in order to better distract him and make him forget that he is in rehab , explains Pierre-Alain Gagne, co-founder of Dowino, a creative studio specializing in “serious games” for educational purposes, during a series of conferences at the Cité des Sciences et de l’industrie on the topic of health and video games.

SEE ALSO: Containment. Video games are a treatment recommended by the World Health Organization

According to this principle, Researchers at the University of Washington have created snow world, game for burn victims. Using a virtual reality headset, the player develops in the ice and must shoot down penguins with snowballs. Being actually immersed in the world of snow, during the dressing change, the patient’s pain and anxiety are reduced. , Emphasizes Catherine Rolland. Thus, using games with a device that immerses the patient in water, we offer a non-drug alternative to pain relief.

Solution of medical deserts

Video games could also be part of the solution to the problem of medical deserts. In some cases, and especially when it comes to rehabilitation, dispensary observation requires a significant mobilization of medical workers. The use of video games in this area could allow doctors to carry out regular remote monitoring, regardless of where the patient is, and the latter to engage in self-rehabilitation. , says Catherine Rolland.

It is also the goal of the Cesaar-AVC research project for Design‌ ‌et‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌System‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ “

This is an assistance system for home self-rehabilitation of the upper limbs after a stroke. Based on a game similar to voracious fish, but this time with a bird that has to eat fruit as the protagonist.

The player must try to catch the precious fruits by controlling the hungry bird and score the most points by simply moving their hand from side to side. This allows you to rehabilitate a movement called pronosupination, the rotation of the wrist from right to left., explains Guillaume Bouillet, Research Professor at the Paris-Saclay University in Virtual Reality. It is a lightweight device that fits easily on a computer with a motion detection camera. Thus, the doctor can remotely monitor the progress of the user., concludes the last one.

Video games are thought to be addictive, but they can also have beneficial effects on health.