ADHD, Longer Covid, The Future of Prescription Video Games


On the frosty planet of Frigidas, a virtual world full of ice caves and dangerous waterfalls, your mission is to run down tracks and target flying animals. This is not easy. Hitting a wall (using your phone or tablet to move around) can slow down your avatar. Also, other characters are meant to distract you from your objective. Yet, through all these challenges, the idea is that Frigidus’ frosty terrain can offer something no other video game can give: a treat.

Frigidius is just one part of the EndeavorRx universe, a video game designed to treat ADHD in children ages 8-12. This game, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2020, is the brain that we use to focus our attention. Now Akili Interactive, the company that created it, hopes to expand the game for all sorts of other conditions, including depression and Covid’s brain fog. The goal is to use technology to create new types of drugs that provide treatments that don’t require in-person supervision or risk serious side effects.

The idea of ​​a prescription video game can sound far-fetched and counterintuitive when you read warning headlines about the rise of video game addiction. Still, games like EndeavorRx are compelling because they raise the possibility that a highly enjoyable activity can also serve as a potential cure. This approach promises to make treatment more affordable and suggests that the phones, tablets and computers you already own can be turned into medical devices simply by downloading an app. The thing is that the impact of these games (which are still relatively new) is debatable. That’s despite companies like Akili going public and trying to deal with more conditions. This means that these platforms now run the risk of over-expectations and under-deliveries.

EndeavorRx is scientifically backed. After analyzing the results of his five clinical trials involving more than 600 children, the FDA found the game to promote a “general improvement in attention” and alleviate her other ADHD symptoms. I found what I thought. EndeavorRx is not designed to replace medications, but is only available to those with a prescription. Patients with a prescription will be sent an access code that can be used to download the game. The list price for the game is $450/month for those with insurance, but those without insurance can pay a discount, albeit at $99/month. These are just some of the reasons he says the Akili exec says EndeavorRx isn’t just a Mario Kart twist or an enhanced version of the brain-training app Luminosity.

For all that “I’m not like other video games” energy, playing EndeavorRx feels familiar. Navigate the virtual galaxy as a cartoon-like avatar.The avatar can wear horse riding clothes and frozenIce Queen dress like. Different worlds can be accessed within the wide range of Endeavor Rx games. There you can choose a variety of tasks that will challenge your concentration. The game can get harder or easier depending on how well you do it. It is expected that they will be able to train effectively.

EndeavorRX games are designed to help children with ADHD.
Courtesy of Akiri

“Under the hood are these very complex and beautiful sets of algorithms that create stimuli and closed feedback loops to activate very specific parts of the brain,” says Akili co-founder Matt Omernick, vice president and chief creative officer, told Recode. “This engine underneath is what actually creates a lasting effect in the brain, and a nice skin, wrapper, or container is the style and look and feel of a video game.”

Akili’s product was the first to receive FDA approval, but it was not the first medical use of video games. Veterans are using video games to alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and therapists are using them to work with people with depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders, especially during the pandemic. More and more people are turning to online games. Some experts believe these games will be able to do even more as virtual reality becomes more prevalent.

But supporters may be ahead. When the FDA approved EndeavorRx in his 2020, the FDA approved it through a process for marketing low-risk medical devices. EndeavorRx is also not very popular yet. He had less than 1,000 prescriptions written for the game in the second quarter of this year, and only 3% were reimbursed by insurance companies. Some critics have expressed concern that the game is merely teaching children how to become better at it.An August study analyzing people using Akili and other platforms Attrition can also make this kind of game less effective, as pointed out in .

“Let’s say we want to scale out to 1 million children with ADHD,” explains study co-author P. Murali Doraiswamy, director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Program at Duke Medical School. “They have to be willing to do it.”

These shortcomings have not hindered Akili’s aspirations. The company is already working on games for adults with depression, and recent research has shown that its platform can help people with lupus. Akili raised over $160 million after going public earlier this year through a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company). The company also recently partnered with his Roblox for his platform of children’s games.

“We have always found that the more engaging and fun an activity is, the more likely someone is to participate. Just like medicine, the better it tastes, the more likely someone is to take it.” ,” explains Josué Cardona, who heads Geek Therapy, a nonprofit focused on video games.

It’s all part of a broader effort to rethink what video games are and can be. It is already clear that virtual worlds will become more sophisticated as technologies such as 5G and the Metaverse become more prevalent. There is now a race to be as helpful as possible in our daily lives, whether it be for mental health treatment, practicing for job interviews, or learning languages.

EndeavorRx’s progress so far suggests the race is on, but it’s still early days. As of now, it’s not yet clear how big an impact this new approach to healthcare will have. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it is genuine.

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