Game of Groans: Can Video Games Relieve Your Child’s Pain?

Children whose wellbeing is affected by chronic pain may now get some relief. This is according to the Pain Medicine Care Complex at Children’s National Medical Centre in Washington, DC, which has developed an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to addressing pain that is helping patients achieve a higher quality of life and family wellness.

Wellness experts estimate that 25-46% of young people suffer with chronic pain, which is defined as daily, serious pain over the course of three months or more. Children who seek help will see an average of four to five medical specialists and go through multiple, expensive tests without answers, before they find the care they need. Not only is this frustrating for your child, but it also adds up to lost school days and lost workdays for you, which can create a significant financial burden on your family.

However, the pain medicine team has now implemented new interactive video games that not only distract patients from their pain, but also collect important data about their movements and response to treatment. Sarah Rebstock, MD, PhD, Clinical Director of the Pain Medicine Program and a Principal Investigator of the Sheikh Zayed Institute, commented that these “medically meaningful” video games provide digital medical data collection for the first time ever, and this helps scientists to create better short-term management and long-term research for chronic pain.

Developed jointly between Interface Media Group and the Pain Medicine Initiative of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Paediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National, the games are based on proven physical therapy activities to help children build their range of motion. Patients are taken through a series of exercises and activities based on current physical therapy techniques, which can be tailored to suit your child. If you child is older, he or she may prefer a game which creates the feeling of being in a futuristic Olympic sports event, while other games, designed for very young children, create the feeling of painting large pictures. The games are also interactive, which means they contain proprietary software that gathers patient data to track your child’s improved range of motion.

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