Blog Feature

By: Jennifer Devitt on August 11th, 2015

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Technology is finding new ways to help patients overcome medical disabilities.

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Software, video games, apps and computerized hardware. All of these items have fallen under the technology umbrella. Most of them work in one capacity or another with each other. Some of these are for business, some for pleasure, some for productivity or healthcare.

Often times, many think of video games as something teenagers do for fun. Individuals who spend time working on computers or developing software are seen to be technology nerds. Today, many of these things are used to help people with varying diseases and disorders. Let's take a look at three promising areas where technology is making an impact.

1. Helping the blind. A South Korean start-up has developed a smartwatch to assist the blind. The device called "Dot" is a braille smartwatch. The watch face has four sets of six dots that represent characters. The dots can shift up to 100 dots per second to communicate with the user. Dot is an affordable addition to the wearable technology arena. Pre-order pricing is $300. The watch enables visually impaired individuals to read text messages.

2. iOS game shows promise for schizophrenia patients to live normal lives.  Wizard is a brain training game. It aids in developing memory skills.  The iPad game was developed by research at the University of Cambridge.  The game is geared at assisting patients with episodic memory skills. Episodic memory assists individuals with things like remembering where they parked their cars or placed their keys. This cognitive function is one that is often impaired in schizophrenia patients.

3. Computer program to assist veterans diagnosed with PTSD.  By utilizing computer programs and video games, researchers can monitor "attention control therapy".  In this type of therapy, the user is trained by tasks on how to focus their attention away from something scary or upsetting. This new therapy hopes to control trauma by giving the patient a task to focus on and complete, thus diverting their PTSD responses. While the researchers are not looking for this to be a app in the App Store, they are hoping to make it more accessible to medical professionals. Currently the treatment is only available in a few select locations in the US and Tel Aviv where the researchers are conducting studies on US and Israeli veterans.

The above-mentioned therapies and studies are a small tip of the iceberg for potential cures and remedies to assist individuals diagnosed with varying afflictions. What many don't realize is that video games go far beyond teenage boys playing Call of Duty. They are assisting researchers with digital therapy that they one day hope will help ease symptoms, if not cure them. They are also hoping to make life easier for the disabled and the blind. Their goal is to make living life to its fullest possible for anyone with the use of technology.  Technology has a ever growing presence in medical therapies and treatments. It is allowing researchers to reach patients in ways never thought possible. By utilizing technology, researches can develop devices and therapies without the need to test initially on human patients as well.  More and more medical students are learning on computerized devices, eliminating the need for human guinea pigs.  Do you have first hand experience with medical therapy using technology? I am always interested in learning more about the possibilities available.