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'Serious Games' Studied As Pain Relief Method

A new report from Business Week has highlighted the use of video games as a way to shield children from pain or frightening medical procedures by distracting the brain, f...
A new report from Business Week has highlighted the use of video games as a way to shield children from pain or frightening medical procedures by distracting the brain, focusing on Free Dive, a new PC game in development by BreakAway Games (A Force More Powerful) and nonprofit organization Believe in Tomorrow. A recent study measuring pain tolerance of sixty children ages 5 – 12 found that when asked to submerge their arm in a tub of icy cold water, on average each subject was able to keep their arm immersed for around 19 seconds. However, if the child was allowed to play Free Dive with their free hand while partaking in the test, researchers found that time to increase by more than 400 percent to around 86 seconds. While according to the report, music has typically served this distractive purpose for doctors and their patients, the developers of Free Dive hope that video games, because of their more engrossing nature, can better meet this need. “Our goal is to provide a visual and auditory shield that will deflect the experience of scary and painful routine procedures—like shots or IV insertions,” noted Brian Morisson of Believe in Tomorrow. Other interesting serious applications for games outlined in the Business Week report include the PediSedate, a headset developed by Boston consultant company Continuum that was designed to make a child feel more relaxed within the hospital environment. While wearing the PediSedate, the headset can be attached to a Game Boy, and can also administer anesthesia and monitor respiratory functions of the child while they play. For more regarding medical applications of serious games, as well as quotes from researchers themselves, interested parties can read the full Business Week Online report on the matter, and can additionally consult CMP's Serious Games Source website for more information on the 'serious games' phenomenon.

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