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How Video Games Can Help Ease Acute Pain in Kids with Sickle Cell

July 19, 2016 by Andrea
By Thegreyanomaly (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Thegreyanomaly (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There's so much more to video games than tracking and catching Pokemon all around town. In fact, over the past decade or so, video games have also been shown to help reduce pain in children with chronic diseases, such as SCD.

In 2014, Talal Ali, a Ph.D student of nursing at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, wrote a dissertation called, Using Video Games For Decreasing Pain Caused by Acute Painful Crisis In Adolescents With Sickle Cell Pain. To collect results for this research study, Talal enrolled 30 participants, ranging in age from 12 to 21, to play video games during painful crises and then complete a self assessment of the pain before the games and the pain after the games. The findings? "The use of video games as a distraction modality has proven to show positive and significant results in the treatment of acute pain."

Used as a type of therapy, the technology of these interactive games provides kids with a distraction from the pain they're experiencing by involving their mind in actively solving a problem, beating a level, etc. However, there is also research that argues that video games are more than just a distraction -- they are an actual treatment for pain. In an interview with Everyday Health, Dr. Sarah Rebstock, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., said, "It's all due to the concept of neuroplasticity ... the notion that experience causes the brain to wire itself in certain ways and that rehabilitative therapy can essentially rewire the brain ... You're increasing range of motion, increasing blood flow, and retraining your body to decrease the pain so it's not as intense."

Check out even more research on how gaming can help lessen pain:

Specialists See Tools to Treat Pain in Video Games

Video Games Help Relieve Pain

Video Games Help Treat Kids with Chronic Pain



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