Monday, March 20, 2006

Video Game Brain Therapy

More on using videogames to exercise the mind. Here's the recent CNET story:
Doctors pronounced Ethan Myers brain dead after a car accident dealt the 9-year-old a severe brain injury in 2002. After he miraculously awoke from a nearly month-long coma, doctors declared he would never again eat on his own, walk or talk.

Yet, thanks partly to a video game system, Myers has caught up with his peers in school and even read a speech to a large group of students.

"I'm doing the exact same things as them. I'm getting buddies and stuff," said Myers, who had relearned to walk and was reading at a second-grade level before his video game therapy began in May 2004.
CyberLearning's Smart BrainGames system, which Myers still uses, targets symptoms arising from brain injuries, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities.

Priced at $584, the system is built on NASA technology that used video games and neurofeedback to train pilots to stay alert during long flights and calm during emergencies. It is compatible with Sony's PlayStation 1 and 2 consoles as well as Microsoft's Xbox, which video game-crazed kids are quite familiar with.

Users wear a helmet with built-in sensors to measure brain waves. That data is relayed to a neurofeedback system that affects the game controller.

Car racing games work best with the system, which rewards users by telling the controller to allow them to go fast and steer with control, doctors said. When patients' brain waves aren't in "the zone" the controller makes it harder to accelerate and steer.

Families generally pay $2,000 to $2,500 for a six-month supervised program with one of CyberLearning's 55 licensed health professionals trained on the Smart BrainGames system.
Read the whole thing.

The software Ethan used can be purchased at where they say:
Imagine playing a race car game. You are racing in time trials or against other players. As you improve your focus, your car goes faster. If your focus wanders you lose ground to the other racers. Your brain is the accelerator, your calmness the steering.

Using patented NASA technology, S.M.A.R.T. BrainGames provides the only true fun, interactive training experience in neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is just like exercise, the more you do it the more you benefit. Although many people recognize the benefits of exercise, too few exercise regularly because it is more chore than fun.
That certainly sounds familiar!

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