The US drug agency (FDA) has approved the sale of a prescription video game to children with and without ADHD. It is my first. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects approximately 4 million children aged 6 to 11 across the Atlantic. It is linked to abnormal development and functioning of the brain. Those concerned then present attention difficulties and / or impulsivity and hyperactivity affecting their social and school life.
ADHD is no more common in boys than in girls. On the other hand, it can manifest itself differently in some and in others. Boys, for example, tend to be more hyperactive and impulsive, while girls are more attentive.
For children with ADHD, improving their ability to concentrate and resist distraction is therefore essential to their daily functioning and school performance. In this sense, those concerned can now count on an unprecedented therapeutic option.
Prescribed video game
In the United States, children aged 8 to 12 suffering from TDHA with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) can now be prescribed play sessions on Endeavor RX, developed by the company Akili Interactive. The principle is this: players pilot a small ship through a variety of fantastic environments, all while taking care to catch bonuses and avoid obstacles.
Endeavor RX, which can be experienced on iPhone or iPad, offers a concept like other games, but not only. According to Akili Interactive, it is also “designed to directly stimulate certain parts of the brain through sensory stimuli and exercises that improve cognitive functions”.
Endeavor Rx, which is part of the growing field of digital therapy, therefore offers a non-drug option here to improve symptoms associated with ADHD in children
A supplement to drugs
Before being approved by the FDA, the game was tested on more than 600 children in five studies. The largest had 348 participants. It found that 36% of them showed improvement in at least one objective measure of attention after playing Endeavor Rx for 25 minutes, five days a week for four weeks.
In comparison, 21% of comparison group members who were asked to participate in word games that were not specifically designed to target ADHD experienced a similar improvement.
“These results deserve to be investigated further,” nonetheless temper the authors of the study. For the moment, there is no question that the game completely replaces existing treatments for ADHD. Researchers see it more as a supplement to drug options.
In addition, it should be noted that 9% of participants experienced some side effects (headache and nausea). However, the researchers believe that these drawbacks are largely outweighed by the benefits of Akili Interactive gaming. The FDA, which has just approved the approach, therefore seems to agree.
Despite this green light which is never given lightly, it seems important to emphasize that these studies were carried out by professionals with a financial interest in offering this video game. In addition, it has only been tested on children for one month.
Hugues Louissaint is an entrepreneur and writer, living in the US for over a decade. He has launched successful products such the Marabou Coffee brand, which has been highly successful in Florida. He has also been a writer for more than 5 years focusing on science, technology, and health. He writes part-time for the Scientific Origin and provides valuable input on a wide range of subjects.