Doctors are prescribing a video game to treat this common disorder

An unusual treatment has been approved by the US health authorities to combat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

For the first time ever, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opened the door to prescribing a very special treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. In 2020, the US health agency approved the prescription sale of the video game 'EndeavorRX', developed by the start-up Akili Interactive and designed for children aged 8 to 12 with this disorder. The use of this 'digital therapy' is already showing convincing results.

A video game for ADHD

Designed for the iPhone or iPad, this game developed in collaboration with neuroscientists and designed to improve cognitive faculties has been tested for seven years in clinical trials with 600 children. As per the results, one-third of those who were able to play the game for 25 minutes a day, five days a week, for at least four weeks, no longer showed a measurable attention deficit on at least one objective measure of attention.

According to the parents' observations, almost half of the children showed a significant change in their behaviour.

While digital therapies are currently in demand across the Atlantic, particularly in the treatment of addiction, chronic pain or anxiety, EndeavorRX is the first video game officially recognised as a 'treatment' in the country.

EndeavorRX is a relatively simple game: the player embodies a small character aboard a ship that progresses on a straight-line circuit. The player must collect bonuses while avoiding the traps which are set up on their way.

ADHD challenges

Among the children whose lives have been changed by this video game is Owain Sihanourath, a 13-year-old American boy who was recently featured on the BBC. Diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten, the boy has had to deal with the consequences of this disorder for a long time. His mother said:

I could see him struggling to understand why he couldn't concentrate, and the frustration he had when he tried so hard and was always distracted

After a long history of taking medication that caused headaches and nausea, Owain finally tried the video game after it was approved by the FDA. Over time, his mother began to notice positive changes in his behaviour, and his grades at school suddenly started to soar.

It was amazing to see my son succeed, but even more so, to see him have confidence in himself... he is no longer upset and confused as to why he just doesn't get it.

This article was translated from Gentside FR.

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