As an innovative software company, it goes with the territory that many of our employees are considered your quintessential "techies". But it's not just the techies anymore that are interested in gaming. Gaming transcends all genders, ages, ethnicities and lifestyles of American culture. With so many Americans interested in this interactive activity and the nationwide push for adoption of healthcare IT, the stage is set for gaming to be more than a trend. Gaming could potentially change the way we view healthcare by allowing patients to better participate in their own health and doctors to improve on their medical training.
In a previous post, we touched on how gaming allows patients to take an interactive role in their health. However, the possibilities and scope of where gaming can go are endless. From simple video games that help patients become more active to advanced virtual reality games as a form of pain control for burn patients, gaming will be a big part of the healthcare landscape in the future.
The Games for Health Project has a lot of ideas of how gaming can lead to healthier behavior. Their organization’s goal is to support “efforts to use cutting-edge games and game technologies to improve health and health care” and they also have an annual conference where people come together and discuss health care gaming initiatives.
They came up with five main categories of games that can improve well-being:
Cognitive and Emotional Health
This category includes games that improve your brain’s health or memory. These games can be used for the average person or can be used to treat learning disabilities and mental disorders.
Participatory health is a way for patients to become more active in their own care. Many mobile apps have been developed to help patients keep up with medications and/or treatment programs in a fun, interactive way. There are also a variety of educational games for patients to learn more about nutrition and how to stay healthy.
Exergaming, Active Gaming & Fitness
Probably the most well known of the categories is exergaming, also called motion gaming. Exergaming relies on technology that tracks body movement or reaction. Nintendo’s Wii Fit, Ubisoft’s Just Dance series, and Xbox Kinect are just a few of the many examples of this popular trend. Not only does exergaming make people more active and fight obesity, it can also be used as therapy for a variety of disorders and disabilities.
Exergaming is closely related to the fourth category of rehabilitation games. These games can be used for a variety of different physical therapy, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation programs. In an article titled “Serious games: key trends for the healthcare sector,” one example discussed is Florida Southern College using the Wii Fit to rehabilitate athletes recovering from surgery or injury.
Medical Education & Training
While the first four categories focus on patient health, doctors can benefit from gaming as well. Video/ computer/ mobile games that are for educational purposes, also known as serious games, can help doctors with professional training (e.g. how to deal with patients in certain situations), surgical training, and a wide range of medical education topics. BreakAway, Ltd has created several serious games for health care, such as their game for dental students at the Medical College of Georgia that allows them to “practice dental implant procedures in a realistic, virtual, 3D, environment.”
Clearly video games are no longer just a lazy activity for kids. Gaming can have many uses and benefits. With all the new possibilities of where gaming can go, we will see more and more integration with the health care industry, so expect lots of exciting changes!