Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Medicine Games

Finnish Doctors Are Prescribing Video Games For ADHD 76

Posted by Soulskill
from the you've-been-self-medicating-for-years dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Ville Tapio runs a private psychiatry center in Helsinki, and psychiatrists had told him they were reluctant in particular to hand out drugs for patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD drugs are psychostimulants, they are frequently abused, and kids can be prescribed them young and kept on a regimen for years. Tapio had an idea to do it better. His alternative? Getting people with mental health concerns to play video games. They're special video games, of course — ones that can change how your brain works, with a technique loosely termed gameified neuroplasticity therapy."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Finnish Doctors Are Prescribing Video Games For ADHD

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It worked for ... SHINEY RING!!
    *runs off*

  • by mythosaz (572040) on Friday October 11, 2013 @04:48PM (#45104627)

    Sorry boss, my doctor says I need to medicate every 2 hours while I'm awake.

  • As though there aren't a lot of people with mental health concerns playing videogames all day...

    Must not be Pac-Man or Space Invaders they're playing if they're trying to fix an attention deficit.

  • Are there any of these games available as an app or free download?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 11, 2013 @05:22PM (#45104893)

      According to the article, these "games" utilize a brain-scanning cap that you place on your head. It reads brainwave activity and translates it into motions on the screen. It's designed to get the user to focus on tasks better and improve concentration. I don't see it being feasible with the size, power, and physical limitations of a smartphone or tablet anyway.

      As someone with ADHD, I can easily see where this could work over time. If something could train my brain to slow down (without drugs), I am sure I'd be able to concentrate on tasks a lot better. Sort of like folks with anger control issues learning to breathe calmly and count to three (or whatever they do).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        YOU train your own brain. It doesn't do it for you. The 'game' just gives you a pretty interface to distract you while you do it. It's a positive feed-back loop. You can do it without the game. Meditate.

        Think of the cap like a mouse or joystick interface. There's no reason it can't work on a tablet or phone (you'd need a bluetooth interface for the cap). There are a few DIY BCI (brain-computer interfaces) designs out there. They aren't great, but they'd work well enough to practice this type of medi

        • by seebs (15766)

          The key point is the feedback so you can tell whether it's working, and the structure that provides a reward mechanism to overcome the brain problem. Sounds useful to me.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Interesting, sounds like the pharmaceuticals will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars with the lobbyists to get it banned ASAP. Cure, screw that, treat the symptoms with patented 1,000% profit drugs. It is going to be a real battle.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 11, 2013 @04:51PM (#45104653)

    How do you tell the difference between an introvert and an extrovert in Finland? A Finnish extrovert looks at your feet instead of his own when talking.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I am Finnish, and I approve of this joke.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    But rather a diagnosis. I'm a 27 year old Finn and despite many visits to several doctors, got my ADHD diagnosis just last month. Before that they had just said I was depressed. Yes, since I was a small child.

    After the diagnosis. my psychiatrist prescribed me medication straight away. He didn't even ask me for my opinion. And this is public healthcare we are talking about. They go apeshit if you try to get sleeping pills let alone medicine that are considered drugs like Concerta.

    Also I call BS on frequent a

    • After the diagnosis. my psychiatrist prescribed me medication straight away. He didn't even ask me for my opinion. And this is public healthcare we are talking about. They go apeshit if you try to get sleeping pills let alone medicine that are considered drugs like Concerta.

      Question about your doctor, or rather, the pens he has in his office: they don't happen to have Janssen Pharmaceuticals [concerta.net] logos on them do they?

      In my nation, America, it's not uncommon for physicians to happily prescribe whatever the drug rep he's cheating on his wife with tells him to; I wonder if Finland is similar in any way.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As another Finn I can add that it would be pointless as soon as there's a generic alternative. The public health care system mandates that the pharmacies inform you if the same drug that has been prescribed exists as a generic alternative and if you want to change to it because it's cheaper. Usually people do since the subsidy you get is much less if you want a more expensive option, if there's no difference from a medical POV. This is the case with normal prescriptions. I myself have had a chronic conditio

    • by omnichad (1198475)

      Here in the US, you just say "I have a child..." and the doctor hands out a script for Adderall.

  • After reading TFA, I can say it's nice to see a national healthcare system that actually takes ADD and ADHD seriously. Here in the USA, it seems (to me) that there's a lot of "misdiagnosis" of the malady, as if American physicians are more concerned about paychecks and drug rep kickbacks than actually treating the illness.

    Not sure if it's still as much an issue today as it was 5-10 years ago, but there was a time when US doctors prescribed Ritalin and other psychotropic drugs to any and every half-assed unr

  • Studies have found that kids with ADHD are much more likely [boston.com] to become addicted to video games. Does this count as an addiction to prescription medicine? Hmm....
  • As somebody with mild ADHD and who just happens to be a gamer I was exited by the headline. That is until I saw that these games aren't really games, at least not the kind any self-respecting gamer would choose. Bummer dude.
  • It has always amazed me how people who are diagnosed with ADHD manage to sit and play video games for hours on end. Yet for some reason, activities like listening to someone speak or learning a new subject seem like impossible tasks for them. This approach seems to make sense since it takes one of the few tasks these people seem to be able to focus on and uses it to rewire their brains to allow them to concentrate better on everyday activities.
    • Common wisdom is that people with ADD and ADHD can't pay attention, but this isn't true. We pay attention to things we find rewarding (which generally does not include things that their teachers and parents want them to pay attention to).

      The solution is helping people with ADD/ADHD find rewards where they might not have found them on their own.

      • by WiiVault (1039946)

        Thank you! This is such a common misunderstanding people have and it can really lead you to confusion when actually dealing with a person who has the condition. In fact it was that exact problem that led to my parents being reluctant to put up the money to have me tested as an adolescent. They were caring people, but money was tight, and the few times I remember it being mentioned by friends or family as something to look into they would reply non-defensively that they had considered it and then provide ex

      • Thank you for posting this. It sucks that the general population doesn't understand what it's like to have this. I used to play warhammer 40K and I would stay up for hours into the night painting miniatures and meticulously crafting terrain to display them on. Many kids with ADD do well in individual sports too, I was a good enough gymnast to take state. I loved tumbling and doing giant swings on the high bar. These things were rewarding to me.

        Put a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird in front of me at the ag

      • by TeknoHog (164938)

        Common wisdom is that people with ADD and ADHD can't pay attention, but this isn't true. We pay attention to things we find rewarding (which generally does not include things that their teachers and parents want them to pay attention to).

        The solution is helping people with ADD/ADHD find rewards where they might not have found them on their own.

        Nice summary. I think the latter bit is particularly important -- it's possible to get interested in something you didn't use to find interesting.

        I sometimes think I have some level of borderline ADH?D, as I have done well academically, but I find most real-life work unbearable. I have basically given up on an academic research career, since I don't work well in an office. At the moment I'm back at the university doing undergraduate studies, which is strangely enjoyable. Listening to a lecture is great f

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      It shouldn't be too amazing. The video games offer a variety of constant visual stimulation that simply isn't there when listening to someone speak or learning a new subject. The ADHA sort of actually works for them in the games because the changes in visual input generally satisfies their attention interests while also making them a better player because the minute details that change often usually give performance advantages.

      I agree, with your overall assertion but have to ask if the inverse is also true.

  • by p00kiethebear (569781) on Friday October 11, 2013 @11:37PM (#45106793)

    This has been going on for almost 20 years now. I had ADD as a kid and when I was 11 my parents sent me to a biofeedback clinic where I would sit in a dentist chair and concentrate on a pac-man. If my brain waves were in the ideal range the pac man would move through the maze and I would gain points. The speed at which he moved accelerated so the longer I was able to 'focus' the faster he would go through the maze and I'd get a higher score.

    I'm sure the technology must be much more precise these days and the games have probably gotten a lot more interesting to look at but they all essentially are based on the same principle.

    The problem is that most kids that age don't care about wanting to learn how to focus better. They just have fun being who they are naturally. These kinds of programs work really well for adults and younger people with a great deal of motivation to change / practice their 'focusing' ability but as an 11 year old, I got really bored doing this and eventually I started falling asleep in the chair half way through every session. Program was a wasted on me but I applaud my parents for wanting to try to help me without medication.

  • It's like exercise for your brain, and a great waste of money! http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/04/brain-games-are-bogus.html?mobify=0 [newyorker.com]
  • I would think in the beginning you will only be able to do this in the Doctor's office and then on top of that how many times and a week and how often? It would be nice to be able to take the device home and upload results to your Doctor to review and then in return download new games/settings recommended from your Doctor. While I am hopeful, we won't see this in the US for a very long time.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354

Working...