Cheers! Video Games Can Ease Pain

REUTERS[ SUNDAY, JULY 17, 2005 03:20:36 AM]

LONDON: In young children and adolescents they can lead to excessive use and aggressive behaviour, but a leading expert said on Friday that video games ease pain, distract patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer and help to develop dexterity. “The degree of attention needed to play such a game can distract the player from the sensation of pain,” said Mark Griffiths, professor at Nottingham University in England. In patients with arm injuries, the games have been used to increase strength and dexterity, while children with learning disabilities have played them to develop spatial ability. “Therapeutic benefits have also been reported for a variety of adult populations, including wheelchair users with spinal cord injuries, people with severe burns and people with muscular dystrophy,” Mr Griffiths said.
Although negative effects, which include wrist pain, hallucinations and repetitive strain injuries, have been widely reported, Mr Griffiths said they tend to be temporary and could be caused by other factors. “Some of these adverse effects seem to be rare and many resolve when the patients no long play the games,” he added. Mr Griffiths, a professor of gambling studies, called for more studies into the long-term effects of video games and what constitutes excessive use. “Further research should examine factors within games such as novelty, users’ preferences and relative levels of challenge and should compare video games with other potentially distracting activities,” Mr Griffiths added

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