New video game can be used to treat ADHD

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States say that doctors can prescribe playing EndeavorRX as a treatmeant
adhd A screenshot from the new video game, EndeavorRX. (Akili Interactive)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a disorder that affects a person's ability to pay attention, stay calm, or follow instructions. It is a relatively common condition in children and young people. Though people with it each experience it differently, in general it makes many social activities a real challenge. In particular, going to school.

ADHD makes focusing on a lesson, following instructions, and participating in a typical classroom very difficult. To help people with the condition, doctors have tried many treatments, including medication, therapy, and alternative school programs designed for kids with the disorder. And now they have another surprising option.

A video game.

Meet EndeavorRX

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved a video game called EndeavorRX as a treatment for people with ADHD. This is no accident. The game has been specifically made to assist kids with the disorder.

The idea behind the game is pretty familiar for anyone who loves video games. Players pilot a spacecraft through a number of different environments, as they collect items and encounter obstacles. But in the case, the game has been put together to subconsciously help kids improve their attention span. The developers designed it to stimulate neural, or brain, systems that operate how we pay attention.

In other words, by playing the game, kids learn to better stay focused and calm, without them really realizing it. It's like an attention-span workout!

Wave of the future?

This is hardly the first instance of a video game being seen as useful in a classroom. From Minecraft being adopted to the classroom by teachers who are fans, to games like Prodigy that adopt Pokémon-style combat to learning math, new ways to blend games and learning are popping up all the time.

But this is the first time a video game being seen as a medical treatment—something that doctors can prescribe to patients to help them.

To be clear, EndeavorRX still needs more time to truly prove itself. It is not yet a full replacement for medication and therapy—just a helping hand. And even though the FDA has approved it, the testing has been fairly small, only reaching about 600 kids. That's not a lot when you consider that millions of children have ADHD in the United States alone.

But we love the idea that a fun activity like a video game could be used to help kids who struggle with this disorder. Why shouldn't treatment be fun? And we're sure that this is just the first of many games designed to help people with mental conditions and disorders.

Take a tour of EndeavorRX below.

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