Gaming has had a mixed reputation among the general public for a while now, however, more people are becoming more informed and aware of its benefits as well. An experimental study conducted at a Spanish children’s hospital called La Paz has been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research showing that they believe playing video games is therapeutic for chronic pain management in pediatric cancer cases. The study was conducted by Fundación Juegaterapia in partnership with a pain monitoring technology manufacturer called Mdoloris.
The study focuses on children suffering from mucositis, a side-effect of chemotherapy where a patient feels frequent bouts of chronic pain throughout the day, and how video game therapy help with this. The hospital administered the pain of the participants using Mdoloris’s analgesia nociception index (ANI) monitor patient-controlled analgesia or morphine pumps. They also used electronic video games therapy using Sony’s gaming consoles sponsored by the Juegaterapia foundation.
They saw that video game therapy positively affected children and adolescents who participated in the study. They also observed a significant decline in the demand for morphine in participating children with mucositis.
Distraction therapy post-chemotherapy
Mdoloris is a start-up founded in 2010 and since then has been a significant contributor to this research. Their ANI monitor autonomously measures the activity in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) of the brain. This will help prevent under or overdosing of analgesia to a patient. The study also uses the monitor to assess the effects caused by video games on their pediatric participants’ pain management.
Each participant played a video game of their choice for an average of 2.3 hours per day. The study included 19 patients aged between 4 and 17 years and who were hospitalized at La Paz’s children’s oncology ward from 2016 to 2017. All the other pediatric cancer patients who were mentally unable or refused to play video games were excluded from the study.
The observers were able to see the sympathetic-parasympathetic balance on the ANI monitors while their participants played video games. A sharp decline of 20% of morphine requirement was also observed in some cases.
The ANS of the brain tries to create a balance between stress and relaxation during any activity. While the sympathetic nervous system of the ANS prepares for activities such as running, the parasympathetic nervous system helps undertake relaxing activities such as sleeping. The parasympathetic system provides negative feedback to the sympathetic system, which is positively essential in maintaining a balance between the two.
With that in mind, most children and some adolescents respond more positively to the treatment guided by a structured and fun game setup. The presence of doctors, parents and fellow patients also helps young adults to learn new and different ways of managing pain, especially in cases like cancer.
The head of the pain management unit at La Paz and co-author of the study Dr. Francisco Reinoso-Barbero shares his enthusiasm about this, saying that “Thanks to the Mdoloris technology, it is the first time that the impact of gaming on handling acute pain and the body’s response is measured, accurately and objectively. Not only do children suffer less, but they could heal faster and respond better to treatment!” This study on video game therapy and its connection to relieving the pains of chemotherapy for children is definitely something we look forward to seeing more of.
YouTube: MDoloris Medical Systems presents ANI (Analgesia Nociception Index) technology
Photo credits: The images of the patients have been taken by Fundación Juegaterapia for Mdoloris. The image of the device is owned by Mdoloris. All the images have been provided for press usage by both parties.
Source: JMIR Publications