A NEW FRONTIER
Neuro-feedback is a form of conditioning that rewards people for producing specific brain waves, such as those that appear when a person is relaxed or paying attention.
While this form of treatment has been around for decades, incorporating video games marks a new frontier that taps young people’s fascination with animation and electronics to sweeten often frightening, lengthy and tedious medical treatments.
Video games are being used, for instance, to help sick children manage pain and anxiety during hospital stays.
A young leukemia patient inspired “Ben’s Game,” which let him fight the cancer cells invading his body. A private island called Brigadoon in Linden Lab’s “Second Life” virtual world is open only to people with Asperger’s syndrome and autism.
West Virginia’s public schools are battling obesity by making “Dance Dance Revolution” — a step-to-the-beat video game — part of their curriculum, while Nintendo Co. Ltd. (7974.OS) has made a splash with its new “Brain Age” mind-exercising game.
SKEPTICS, COST REMAIN HURDLES
Despite demonstrated benefits of neuro-feedback, one pediatrician said better-designed studies are needed to help parents of children with ADHD make informed decisions.
“We have some very effective treatments for kids with ADHD,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Schneider Children’s Hospital in New Hyde Park, New York. “I’d be concerned about parents pursuing expensive and not very established treatments in lieu of more proven therapies.”
Traditional treatments, such as prescribing the stimulant Ritalin, behavioral therapy and education, are often covered by health insurance, while neuro-feedback usually is not.
Which to choose ? A proven treatment requiring no drugs or drug the patient into a semi stupor?