For the first time in history, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a prescription video game that is supposed to treat kids with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that kids may experience, but it may also last into adulthood. Children with ADHD may be overly active or have difficulties with paying attention and controlling impulsive behaviors. About 4 million children in the world who are 6-11 years old are affected by the disorder.
The game is called EndeavorRx, formerly known as Project EVO, and was specifically designed to help children with ADHD to focus their attention and improve this function. More precisely, the game was developed by Akili Interactive for kids aged 8-12, who have primarily inattentive or combined-type ADHD.
Users will be able to download the game from the app stores of their mobile devices if they have a prescription to play, and they won’t need any special equipment. However, EndeavorRx is intended to be a part of a therapeutic program along with medication, other kinds of therapy, and educational programs. Akili says the game will be available to families soon.
“EndeavorRx is indicated to improve attention function as measured by computer-based testing and is the first digital therapeutic intended to improve symptoms associated with ADHD,” says the FDA press release, “as well as the first game-based therapeutic granted marketing authorization by the FDA for any type of condition.
In a statement, Akili’s CEO Eddie Martucci said:
With EndeavorRx, we’re using technology to help treat a condition in an entirely new way as we directly target neurological function through medicine that feels like entertainment. Families are looking for new ways to help their children with ADHD. With today’s decision by FDA, we’re excited to offer families a first-of-its-kind non-drug treatment option and take an important first step toward our goal to help all people living with cognitive issues.
In the game, you need to navigate icy winter sites and lava rivers and overcome obstacles and collect targets along the way, while being guided by aliens. EndeavorRx stimulates neural systems involved in the attention function. Besides, its adaptive algorithms monitor the progress of each patient and thus allow for personalized treatment.
The decision to use the game as an additional treatment tool comes after it underwent seven years of clinical trials that studied more than 600 children with ADHD to determine whether the game can be of help at all.
One of five studies has shown that one-third of kids who played the game for 25 minutes a day, five days a week, for a month, “no longer had a measurable attention deficit on at least one measure of objective attention.”
The most common side effects are headache, frustration, dizziness, aggression, and emotional reaction, although more severe ones have not been reported.
However, it should be noted that the study was conducted by doctors who work for Akili, the game’s developer, and the big picture results are slightly less promising. In their conclusion, the researchers whote that their findings “are not sufficient to suggest that AKL-T01 should be used as an alternative to established and recommended treatments for ADHD.” Therefore, EndeavorRx is not a universal treatment and should be used in combination with medication and therapy.
In any case, being witnesses of how games become a means of treating disorders and are being prescribed as supplements to therapy and medication is breathtaking, especially considering that some people believe that video games are bad for our health and the fact that excessive gaming is indeed harmful. The future has come as prescription video games are now real.