– ADHD patients play video games as part of treatment

Here’s an article that has been making the rounds. ADHD treated via a type of videogame. There is a form of treatment in the psychiatric world known as “bio-feedback” which essentially means show the body what it’s doing.

All video games have this as an aspect of their construction. There is an environment, you play in that environment, the environment changes, you see those changes, and you adjust accordingly. It is probably one of the best forms of structured learning created to date.

It seems that this company has put together a system where the change that is of concern is the users attention. Once the attention wanders, the game reflects this.

However, I think most games would make this adjustment. Give anyone who craves stimulation a real-time strategy game such as Starcraft and you will see this person shine. I will frequently get parents who tell me of their child’s ADHD symptoms which disappear when they play games.

I’m not sure how good a game is at improving the symptoms of ADHD outside the sphere of the game. If one would look at ADHD as a misalignment between the individual’s focus and the amount of feedback required from the environment, then the environment of the video game is simply a better fit for the person than the “natural” environment. However, I must add, that there is often more to ADHD than this simplified view.

If there is a step-wise process involved between the two states – that of the game to that of, say an incredibly boring teacher, then I could theoretically see the transition and the benefits of the game. Alternatively, one could simply learn that highly stimulating environments are one’s best field of learning and attempt to gain whatever knowledge needed from such environments.

I must add that the testimonial section of the Smart Brain Games website have some very glowing reviews by patients and family members. There are reports of improved attention outside of the realm of games where the child was able to do good work both at play with toys and at work with writing papers and reading books.

I do not know the specifics of their system and am only going on what I have read from news reports, so it is difficult to form complete comments. At some point, I may try to contact the company and get more details and post an update. Ultimately, I look at games with cautious optimism towards the treatment of ADHD.

Side-comment: The corollary is to focus upon the real-life environment. If the symptoms are only noticed in certain environments – e.g. the school, then we could focus upon those areas. We often find young children confined to desks with minimal gym or recess periods who are expected to hold their pee until the end of the hour while pretending to listen to something that does not show immediate use to their worlds. How can one not squirm in their desks? What should we make of those who don’t get up from time to time?