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Video game could help children with ADHD
Huntsville Item - 12/28/2017
Dec. 28--When it comes to taking different types of medications, some like to find other ways to treat themselves.
Officials from Akili Interactive Labs said its late-stage study of a video game designed to treat children with ADHD -- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder -- met its goal of creating the first prescription video game.
In a study of 348 children ages 8 to 12 who were diagnosed with ADHD, those who played the action-packed video game on a tablet over four weeks saw statistically significant improvements on metrics of attention and inhibitory control, compared to children who were given a different action-driven video game designed as the placebo, according to STAT,
STAT is a national publication focused on finding and telling stories about health, medicine and scientific discovery.
Akili plans on filing approval with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration next year, according to the article.
"We are directly targeting the key neurological pathways that control attention and impulsivity," said Akili CEO Eddie Martucci said to STAT.
He said the study was meant to be a strong objective test to ask: Is it the targeting we do in the brain or is it general engagement with a treatment that's "exciting or interesting" that leads to these targeted affects.
The video game hasn't been tested head-to-head against ADHD medications or psychotherapy to see if it's equally effective, according to the article.
Monte Barron, a pharmacist from Cleburne Drug, said he thinks the video game sounds interesting.
"It sounds like they have definitely done their homework, and a lot of the theory makes sense," Barron said. "I think that it could be a possible treatment for some children. I'm sure a lot of parents would be interested in this as a starting place for their child's ADHD treatment.
"Many parents are apprehensive about starting their kids on the typical ADHD medications, most of which are controlled substances. I'm not sure however, that it could be as effective as the typical ADHD meds that are out there, over a long period of time. Perhaps a 30 or 60 day trial with this video game then re-evaluate?"
If parents can keep their child interested in a subject, he said their ADHD will be a lot less noticeable. Generally speaking when a person isn't interested in a subject or lesson their minds tend to wander and daydream, he said.
"Perhaps, this game would be a great alternative to a specific group of children," he said.
Akili's video game sends players down a molten lava river and through an icy winter wonderland, rewarding them with stars and points as they complete tasks, according to the article.
"Akili sees the video game as the delivery system for targeted algorithms that act as a medical device to activate certain neural networks," according to the article. "That's a different category than existing apps and games that help patients manage their disease, such as those that deliver cognitive behavioral therapy or help patients track symptoms or monitor their glucose levels."
Martucci said they have something that looks, feels and is delivered through a video game, but when someone's using it they're getting a direct physiological activation that will lead hopefully to cognitive and general clinical improvement.
Researchers recommended the children complete a 30-minute session of the game five days a week for four weeks, according to the article. Just 11 of the participants reported adverse events, mainly headache and frustration -- much milder than the usual side effects associated with the drugs often used to treat ADHD, according to the article.
For more information about Akili, visit www.akiliinteractive.com.
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