FDA First: Agency Approves Video Game Treatment For ADHD, Requires A Prescription

from the dr.-mario-will-see-you-now dept

Way back in 2013, when the world was still a logical and sensical place, we wrote about a group of Finnish doctors experimenting treating those afflicated with ADHD with video games. This certainly must have struck many as an odd path to take, what with my generation being raised largely by parents that insisted that video games were bad for us. Specifically, at least in my household, there was great concern that these games would shorten attention spans and cause us to get ADHD in the first place.

We didn’t hear a great deal more on this novel use of video games until recently, but it’s still heartening to see that the FDA made a small bit of history recently by approving gaming treatment for those with ADHD. In this case, a game specifically designed to improve cognitive functioning can be prescribed by a doctor.

A new game designed to treat some ADHD symptoms in kids aged 8-12 has been officially approved by the The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meaning that anyone who wants to attempt treating children with the game needs to get a prescription first. As AP report, it’s not only the first time the organisation has approved the use of “digital therapy” for the treatment of ADHD, but it’s also “the first time the agency has ever authorized marketing of a game-based therapy for any condition”.

The game, called EndeavorRx, uses a combination of sensory and motor challenges to “help the player improve cognitive functioning”.

Now, it should be noted that the game was created by a developer based on a study performed by several doctors who were on the developer’s payroll. That certainly sucks. But, still, given that the application of certain games to help cognition in people suffering from ADHD is not entirely new, this probably calls into question the science on how effective this game is, not games in general.

What it doesn’t do is call into question what is becoming a more common interest in utilizing engaging gameplaying to address certain medical afflictions. And it isn’t just video games, either. In fact, lots of things parents used to worry about are now being used as therapeutics. For instance, Dungeons and Dragons underwent its own infamous moral panic episode, only to be turned years later into a form of therapy.

The real lesson here, or one real lesson, is that we should all beware a trendy moral panic.

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Comments on “FDA First: Agency Approves Video Game Treatment For ADHD, Requires A Prescription”

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OGquaker says:

Children got to get out of the house

Like almost everything in the PDR, the physiology of the human body gradually accommodates the changes forced by a therapeutic agent, kids will adapt to this "solution". Why not critic and change the context that has produced the https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/big-pharma-s-manufactured-epidemic-the-misdiagnosis-of-adhd/

NYTimes 2013 *The number of diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has ballooned over the past few decades. Before the early 1990s, fewer than 5 percent of school-age kids were thought to have A.D.H.D. Earlier this year, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 had at some point received the diagnosis — and that doesn’t even include first-time diagnoses in adults. That amounts to millions of extra people receiving regular doses of stimulant drugs to keep neurological symptoms in check. For a lot of us, the diagnosis and subsequent treatments — both behavioral and pharmaceutical — have proved helpful. But still: Where did we all come from? Were that many Americans always pathologically hyperactive and unable to focus, and only now are getting the treatment they need?

Probably not. Of the 6.4 million kids who have been given diagnoses of A.D.H.D., a large percentage are unlikely to have any kind of physiological difference that would make them more distractible than the average non-A.D.H.D. kid. It’s also doubtful that biological or environmental changes are making physiological differences more prevalent. Instead, the rapid increase in people with A.D.H.D. probably has more to do with sociological factors — changes in the way we school our children, in the way we interact with doctors and in what we expect from our kids.*

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Flakbait (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Reasons being insurance. No sane insurance company would cover the cost a video game without a prescription…they’d lose their shirts paying for GTA and the like. And if insurance is going to pay for it, then the manufacturer (if that’s what you would call the developer of a Rx video game) can charge much, much higher prices than the open market, with online games and game apps that have no baseline cost, would bear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Supporting the literal torture of children with electric shocks until they stopped being visibly autistic is absolutely cartoonishly evil, and they supported that to the bitter end, last I checked. Their widely-touted "Applied Behavior Analysis" is something a literal dog trainer wouldn’t use for ethical reasons. They refuse to listen to prominent autistic advocates, and want to eradicate autism from the face of the earth like it’s a deadly disease. It is not.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find a herd of kittens to cuddle, because I did not want to be thinking about these evil people at 1:14 PM on a Tuesday.

Hor says:

Gaming makes sense

The brain is hugely complex and exploration and especially comprehension of the connectome will take hundreds of years (at the current pace). Modifying the connectome with the traditional approach, i.e. going to a shrink and talking, is just very inefficient and error prone. Gaming allows us to scale treatment a bit. The changes are still indirect, so cannot be as efficient as direct connectome modification would be. But it’s still an improvement.

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