How researchers are using computer games to treat pain, aging, ADHD, and other ailments.
Feeling anxious, depressed, fearful, or unable to focus? Is your memory getting fuzzy? Medication might help. Therapy might help. And someday soon—according to neuroscientists, game designers, and drug makers—you might be prescribed a videogame that helps as much as (or more than) either. Here are a few of the innovative companies that are fusing game mechanics with principles of cognitive psychology to create a new paradigm for digital healing.
“What if there’s a better way forward than developing new drugs? What if we could “reverse evolution” and take germs to the state they were in the 1960s, when drug resistance wasn’t such a big problem?”
“If the placebo works as well as the active drug, we could perhaps take them the way we take pills today, perhaps even knowing they were fake. Several studies have shown placebos working even when patients knew what was happening.”
"We are all suffering from the bad design in the world," Thomas Fisher, an architecture professor and dean of the University of Minnesota’s design college, declared at a panel at the American Institute of Architects convention in Chicago yesterday. Fisher was part of a discussion on the link between public health and architecture with Heather R. Britt and Jess Roberts of Allina Health, a Minnesota-based not-for-profit health care system.
Thirty years ago, if you contracted measles or mumps in America, chances are you were born in a poor inner-city community. These days, you’re more likely to get sick if you come from a middle-class area.
“When Dr. Robert Zarr wants to help kids with obesity and diabetes in Washington D.C., he doesn’t just order in another set of pills. He looks up a database of green spaces and asks his patients if they’ve been outside recently. Then he writes a prescription—to a park.”
The pages of The Drinkable Book are made with silver nanoparticle-coated paper that filters 99.9% of bacteria, such as cholera, E. coli and typhoid from contaminated water. Invented by Carnegie Mellon researcher Dr. Theresa Dankovich, the paper costs pennies to produce per page. When someone receives the book, they tear out a filter, place it in the filter box that encases the book, and pour water through.
From a device that makes it possible to don a condom in one second to female condoms that inflate inside the body, these Gates Foundation-funded ideas will get people to rediscover the pleasures of safer sex.
“When we find a [genetic] defect, very few times does that give a direct path towards developing a therapy or intervention,” says Stephen Friend, president of Sage Bionetworks, the biomedical research non-profit leading the project. “What if we flipped what we were trying to do? Maybe those who are sick are the wrong people to be studying.”