An innovative research study carried out by Macquarie University, Australia, has found that first person shooter computer games, such as Medal of Honor, can help rehabilitate patients with Traumatic Brain Injuries.
This type of injury can leave patients with brain damage unable to carry out basic day to day tasks or return to work, because they have problems processing basic information. In, Cognitive Rehabilitation of Attention Deficits in Traumatic Brain Injury using Action Video Games: A Controlled Trial, Clinical Neuropsychologist Dr Alexandra Vakili details a pilot study on patients with this type of injury.
Participants were trained on a first person shooter game while they were taught skills and strategies based on the problems presented in the game, to see if the program would help improve their attention and ability to process information. Crucially, participants not only got better at the game, but were able to carry out some everyday tasks faster and more successfully than the control group.
‘This type of injury can have lifelong implications,’ said Dr Alexandra Vakili, ‘rehabilitation is a long process, but without intervention the patient may never return to work. The economic benefits of retraining cognitive functioning benefits both the individual and the community at large.’
The study used an action video game and a commercially available video game console as a cognitive rehabilitation tool for Traumatic Brain Injury, building on previous research that demonstrates action video game players make faster and more accurate judgments.
Given that the typical demographic of Traumatic Brain Injury survivors is young men, a computer-assisted intervention has immediate appeal, and reduces the need for specialized equipment.
‘What we need now,’ said Dr Alexandra Vakili, ‘are larger randomised controlled trials in this area, to build on the positive results reported by the participants. The potential that action gaming has to help this set of patients is really exciting.’