Washington D.C.’s Children’s National Medical Center began using video games to help treat pain in young patients last week. These specially designed video games combine Microsoft’s Kinect technology with game activities that assists the child’s physical therapy while keeping their mind off the pain. The games also help doctors analyze the childs range of motion and let them keep track of the patient’s progress while the chilld has fun in an intergalactic world that they can play, paint and exercise in.

Video Games Help Kids With Pain Management

How the Software Works

Not only do these games keep children distracted so they don’t dwell as much on their pain, it is also designed to emulate a physical therapy session in body movements.The program allows Doctors to observe these play/therapy sessions and monitor children’s motion and heart rate so patients get the best possible treatment. If need be, treatment changes can even be made in real-time.

The software makes this possible by measuring the patient’s range of motion by degrees and targeting and tracking 24 musculoskeletal points in the body. For example, if a child is having difficulty moving their shoulder more than a few inches, the game will detect a problem area which will tell the doctor which areas need improvements.

Video Games Help Kids With Pain Management

Game Software Changes Medical Approach to Pain Relief

According to Dr. Sarah Rebstock, initiative leader and clinical director of the center, this new program is changing medical professional’s approach to pain medicine. In the past there has been few ways to monitor and detect pain in patients, especially children, leaving most doctors with only a measurement on a scale from one to ten to go by. Due to this lack, and to the subjective nature of pain, some patients are released from care before the pain and discomfort is completely dealt with.

This new pain care complex is not only one of the largest advancements in pain medicine in the last few years, but it may also save families with children who suffer from chronic pain, a lot of medical expenses.

How do you feel about the concept of using video games to help children cope with pain?

[Images via seriousgamesmarket & washingtonpost]