Video Games - Useful In Healthcare?

[Posted: Fri 15/07/2005]
While much concern has been expressed in recent years about children's increasing use of video games, one expert has argued that in some areas of healthcare at least, such games can be useful.
According to Mark Griffiths, a professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University, one area in which video games may prove useful is that of pain management.
"One innovative application of video games in healthcare is their use in pain management, as the degree of attention needed to play such a game can distract the player from the sensation of pain", Professor Griffiths explained.
He said that they can also provide cognitive (mental) distraction for children during chemotherapy and have been used as a form of physiotherapy, or to help social and spatial skills in many different groups of people.
However Professor Griffiths acknowledged that there is a growing body of evidence highlighting the more negative aspects of play, particularly when it comes to children and adolescents.
These include the risk of addiction, increased aggressiveness, repetitive strain injuries and obesity.
"On balance, there is little evidence that moderate frequency of play has serious adverse effects, but more evidence is needed on excessive play and on defining what constitutes excess in the first place", Professor Griffiths said.
There should also be long-term studies on the course of videogame addiction, he added.
Professor Griffiths made his comments in the British Medical Journal.

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