For children, coping with the pain of chronic illness can be particularly harrowing. They can’t well understand and articulate what they’re feeling. They can’t quite recognize how temporal pain is and that, one day in the future, it will be gone. They just want to be normal.
So, what if treating pain could be fun?
The Pain Medicine Care Complex in Washington ventures it can be. Specialists and game developers there are piloting four galaxy-themed video games that serve as a form of physical therapy. The games rely on Kinect, a motion sensor device controlled largely by users’ gestures, and aim to increase patients’ range of motion and distract children from their pain, according to a recent article in the New York Times.
There’s an upside for physicians too: the games provide them with more data on their patients. Kinect can track a patient’s movements and funnel that data directly into a database, the NYT article reports. Specialized software then automatically generates infographics, allowing physicians to grasp the patient’s angles, distance and speed with ease.
Dr. Julia Finkel, chief of pain medicine at the complex, reported to NYT that current methods to assess and treat pain rely on trial and error. Using empirical data generated by the video games could reduce doctors’ reliance on observation and patients’ self-report.
Increasingly, we see sensors cropping up to tell us how are bodies perform. A little over a year ago, Nike released the FuelBand, a wristband that tracks physical activity indicators and compiles it into a brand-specific measure called NikeFuel. Just yesterday, I learned of a wi-fi connected scale that senses weight, body fat, heart rate and even room temperature.
If we already use sensory data to monitor our health, isn’t it a logical step for trained medical professionals to use that data to monitor our health?
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