Healthcast: Video Game Helps with ADHD


Up until now, most experts thought the less exposure to video the better for children with ADHD. They believed these kids would focus better with less video stimulation. But a new video game is actually helping ADHD children.

Quietly doing homework is relatively routine for most 13 year olds. But Nate Katz has trouble concentrating. He has ADHD. And keeping him on task is a task in itself.

Nate elaborated, “I could not even read for five minutes sometimes, maybe not even two all the time.”

Conventional therapies were hit and miss with Nate. So he volunteered for a breakthrough study at UC San Francisco. For a month, Nate played a video game for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

“He was calmer, a little less wound up when he was sticking to the protocol and able to attend to tasks for a longer period of time,” said Nate’s mother, Beth Katz.

The game is still being tested. Doctors call it a brain workout, targeting the part of the brain that helps kids focus.

Elysa Marco, MD, a Cognitive/Behavioral Child Neurologist at UC San Francisco said “Nobody has used an iPad based or a screen based video game like training for kids with sensory processing and attention deficits.”

The results? More than one third of the patients with sensory processing disorder no longer have attention challenges.

“The idea is that a doctor would literally prescribe this game, as if they were prescribing medicine,” said Joaquin A. Anguera, PhD, a Professor of Neurology & Psychiatry at UC San Francisco

So the good news for Nate, he gets more computer time. But the bad news, he does still have to finish his homework.

Researchers hope this video game is the first one approved by the FDA to treat ADHD. Dr. Marco says “our study is not about ‘video stimulation’, but is specifically showing that a well-designed brain training using a tablet can help attention. It is not about ‘screen time’ in general, but about using tablets/digital content in a directed and positive way.”

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