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Patients who suffer from chronic pain may reach for the mouse and keyboard instead of the medicine cabinet

Even though researchers have increased focus on video games for a variety of research projects, very few of the endeavors have yielded astonishing results.

A researcher working at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada claims playing video games could be more effective than using certain drugs when treating chronic pain sufferers.  During controlled experiments, professor Diane Gromala reported that participants who played virtual reality games were more comfortable than participants who on pain medication only.

"Controlling pain through computerized VR and biofeedback meditation therapies has the promise of providing successful, cost-effective alternatives to pain medications," she said in a statement.  

As founder of the university's BioMedia Lab, Gromala believes there is a "real demand" for the technology.  Gromala adds, "As Canada's baby-boomers enter old age, pain management looms as a huge public-health issue."

Patients enrolled in programs to treat chronic pain typically endure physical therapy, counseling sessions and prescription pain-killers. Often, patients reject therapy rather than risk addiction to pain medication.

This isn't the first time game technology has been included for the general health of players.  Although playing games on the Nintendo Wii doesn't technically count towards the one hour of exercise children should receive per day, the console still has become a hit in rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes.


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By Darkskypoet on 1/3/2008 9:25:57 AM , Rating: 3
for those proposing TV, or good book; yes, distracting activity helps to an extent, in taking your mind off of somthing. However, other activities (not all video games) like some video games, where you are concentrating on a visual character, or responding to stimuli you see affecting a visual character, could follow along the same principles as the mirror therapies used to trick your brain in to believing you are moving the affected muscles groups, when in fact you are not.

There are more then likely many different effects at play when utilizing a video game as analgesic, the immersiveness required by many games promotes brain activity that simply is not present in those watching a passive media. (tv, movies, etc)

The presence of an on screen character, and actions of your body that manipulate said onscreen character, transfer your concentration to reacting to stimuli effecting said onscreen character, and not your own body. (a la wii, and other games like that)

Additionally, first person shooters and the like, also require you to focus on stimuli coming at you, but in a completely different virtual environment and setting. Again, this remove your hand eye coordination, and other brain functions from working on, or really interacting noticeably with your own body, instead you don't think click mouse, click mouse, d, d, d, d, d, w, w, w, wd, click mouse. You think shoot, shoot, strafe, forward, move forward... In essence, your bodies actual movements are lost on your concious mind, and instead, the movements, of the 'you' in the game occupy it. Going along that track then, again, you are substituing virtual response and stimuli for real life response and stimuli.

All in all, I think it to be a combo of these sorts of effects at work, in combination with the individuals needs as they would differ from person to person, much like anyothe sort of reactions to stimuli. So for some, a good book is a great analgesic, for others perhaps its world of warcraft, and still others playing the wii. In many of theses cases we are simply transfering out conciousness to someone else, something else, somewhere else. And if we pull off the trick, then our mind doesn't conciously deal with real stimuli such as pain responses... It is too busy respondding to other virtual stimuli, whther imagined in our minds eye (book) or broadcasted to many of our senses (games).




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