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Harnessing the Health Powers of Gaming

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the lighten-up-gamer dept.

Education 34

conq writes "BusinessWeek.com has a piece on how some new videogames are being designed with health-related applications in mind. From the article: 'A stopwatch and a tub of frigid ice water are the standard tools medical researchers use to test pain tolerance. How long can a person keep his arm submerged? In an unusual project, last year researchers at the University of Maryland's medical center used the arm-in-ice water test to evaluate a new video game called Free Dive. The researchers found that their subjects — 60 children, ranging in age from 5 to 12 — were able to keep an arm submerged for about 19 seconds on average. If, however, they simultaneously played Free Dive on a PC with their dry hand, the kids could tolerate an average of 86 seconds in the icy liquid — an increase of more than 400%.'" Juan Rey also writes to mention a report from financial news group Bloomberg, saying that Nintendo expects that their upcoming diet-related software for the Wii will succeed the way 'Brain Training' has done with DS.

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34 comments

Shove a cock in me and call me a troll (1, Troll)

(TK2)Dessimat0r (669581) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928428)

Paedophile hunt police find human skull

AMERICAN police made further grim discoveries yesterday during their investigation into a paedophile network responsible for kidnapping girls.

A skull and bones were dug up at the home of the network's suspected ringleader, Rob Malda. It was feared that they were the remains of two teenagers who disappeared from New Orleans a year ago. The bones were unearthed after police spent six days digging at a house in Holland, Michigan, one of six properties owned by Malda.

On a visit to the house last week, Malda told police that his accomplice, Jeff Bates, had buried five bodies under a shed. Maximillion Arturo, a police spokesman in Michigan, said that no further statement would be made until families had been informed.

There was speculation last night that the remains are those of shemales from the GNAA. Malda has admitted abducting them. However, he earlier told police that he believed the two girls were still alive and being held somewhere outside Michigan.

Two eight-year-old girls abducted by Malda have been found buried at another of his properties. They starved to death while he was in prison on a theft charge. Malda's wife, Kathleen Malda, has told police that she was supposed to feed the children while her husband was in prison, but was too frightened to enter their cell.

Another two girls were found alive by police two days after Malda's arrest on Aug 13. Ten people, including Malda, his wife and an American police officer, are in custody in connection with the case.

The raped corpses of two women and parts of a third body have been discovered in a freezer at the Slashdot headquarters, along with the remains of an 80 year old woman that remain unidentified.

TrollKore - At the head of the game.
I hate you, I hate your country, and I hate your face.

Re:Shove a cock in me and call me a troll (0, Offtopic)

Pulse_Instance (698417) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928853)

Thanks for informing of us of what is happening in a parallel universe. Everyone knows that in this universe Maximillion Arturo is a professor of Cosmology and Ontology at the University of California, not a police spokesman in Michigan.

Frog experiment (1)

Ed Pegg (613755) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928439)

In another experiment, a gamer submerged in water was oblivious to a gradual increase in the temperature of the water. The gamers would continue to happily play until rescued, or until the games were turned off.

Re:Frog experiment (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928596)

I really don't get the ice water experiment, and I've actually been subjected to it before. I've kept my arm submerged in ice water for more than five minutes, only taking it out because my shoulder and elbow was getting sore from holding it in a rather awkward position (bucket wasn't all that big). It stung, I guess, but as far as pain goes, I've had much worse. If anything, your arm sort of gets numb and you don't feel it as much. I suppose if I had something to distract me, I probably could have kept it in longer. What I'm getting at is, why ice water to test pain?

Re:Frog experiment (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#15929154)

I also did the ice water experiment in high school. I only took my hand out so I would still have class time left to finish my notes for the experiment.

What I'm getting at is, why ice water to test pain?

Because parents get upset when you set fire to their children. Or cut or stab them. Or whip, boil, fry, burn with acid, spindle, fold, or otherwise mutilate them. Temporary submergence of a limb in ice water is harmless.

Well, some of them do.

And they really object to the opposite test: determining your pleasure threshold.

Re:Frog experiment (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 7 years ago | (#15929261)

Why not mild electric shock? After all, these same parents put those special collars on their pets, right?

It's worse than you think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15929064)

> Nintendo expects that their upcoming diet-related software for the Wii will succeed the way 'Brain Trainig' has done with DS.

Brain Trainig!? Clearly, they need to create a game that involves correct spelling, unless they're trying to increase our tolerance for typos? :-)

Hmmm... (1)

Kesch (943326) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928453)

I've never heard of this pain tolerance test before, yet now I have a sudden urge to masochistically dunk one arm in ice water and then repeat the result while playing WoW.

I can just see this being used for field pain relief: I need a DS and New Super Mario Brothers, stat!

At least, next time I stub my toe, I might use it as an excuse to play a video game. (I might also have more 'accidents' if I can use this argument.)

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15928591)

this also works great when drinking... we've had a few of these challenges after a night of drinking, where you keep your arm in the beer ice bucket (which is mostly melted by this time). The problem is you'll generally keep your arm in there long enough to get damage done to it. The article forgets to mention freezing off your own limb isn't exactly a healthy result of this.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928618)

I wouldn't recommend it. You'll end up getting more wet than anything. Plus, having a big bucket of ice water can't be so safe next to a computer anyway, can it?

Huh! (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928461)

> How long can a person keep his arm submerged? In an unusual project, last year researchers at the
> University of Maryland's medical center used the arm-in-ice water test to evaluate a new video game
> called Free Dive.

Sounds more fun than the average game from Bullfrog, anyway...

I knew it! (3, Funny)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928468)

This proves my theory all along -- video games give me super-human powers! I must only use my powers for good... now, to find criminals using the dangerous properties of ice water to molest the populus... and show them just how well I can tolerate their weapon of choice!

Distraction (2, Interesting)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928473)

I recall hearing on a science podcast a while ago that a similar technique is being tested in dentistry. It was reported that patients who wore glasses that showed them a movie were able to withstand significantly more invasive and painful procedures for longer periods of time before anesthesia was required. Since pain is created in the brain, it makes good sense that "distracting" the brain would make it significantly easier to withstand greater amounts of pain. The many anecdotes of soldiers sustaining horrendous injuries but fighting on without knowing would seem to corroborate this.

I wonder if it would be possible to train someone to consciously ignore the pain centre of the brain in this manner?

Re:Distraction (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928584)

I wonder if it would be possible to train someone to consciously ignore the pain centre of the brain in this manner?

I would think the number of men that are able to watch chick flicks in order to earn brownie points with their wives would prove it's possible.

Re:Distraction (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928614)

I wonder if it would be possible to train someone to consciously ignore the pain centre of the brain in this manner?

I would think the number of men that are able to watch chick flicks in order to earn nookie points with their wives would prove it's possible.


Fixed

Re:Distraction (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928655)

I wonder if it would be possible to train someone to consciously ignore the pain centre of the brain in this manner?
I've certainly heard of cancer patients being taught how to meditate/self-hypnosis. It is definitely possible to block out pain if you have the will to do so.

Re:Distraction (2, Interesting)

Chimera512 (910750) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928660)

my docotor when i was a kid adn afraid of shots once punched me in the arm and then gave me the shot in the other. I was too busy going "WTF my doctor just tried to give me a dead arm" to react to the shot.

Re:Distraction (1)

charlesbakerharris (623282) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928685)

The many anecdotes of soldiers sustaining horrendous injuries but fighting on without knowing would seem to corroborate this.

Adrenaline &&/|| shock != distraction.

Re:Distraction (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 7 years ago | (#15933762)

Yes, I've learned that technique when I was in a hospital with 3rd degree burns on my leg (I was 10 years old at that time).

Doctor told me to think about my favorite movie heroes and try to imagine their adventures at the times I was given painkillers (I ended up thinking about programming). It worked, after some time I could do without painkillers most of times.

And it still works (I'm 23 years old now), it's particulary useful when I'm at the dentist's because oral anastetics don't work well for me (unusual nerve position, don't know how to say this in English).

Health benefits? (4, Insightful)

nosredna (672587) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928496)

It seems to me that subjecting yourself to dangerous or painful situations for longer periods of time is exactly the opposite of a health benefit.

Pain is how the body tells the mind that it needs to cut out what it's doing because it's likely to cause a problem. While some degree of pain tolerance is a good thing, sitting there and ignoring pain to do something fun is quite dangerous. If you pull a muscle in the first quarter of a game of football, you sit out the rest of the game to avoid making it worse. Of course it's good for the rest of your team during that game if you play anyway, ignoring the pain, but it's not good for you to do so. You, at the very least, risk a greater injury.

This is obviously a good thing for the game company, since they get their users to ignore their own well-being to play the game more, but it is far from a good thing for the user.

Re:Health benefits? (1)

Kesch (943326) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928563)

I think it's use is more for people who cannot stop the pain. The hypothetical scenario I envision is any number of patients who are stuck in the hospital or in their home with some sort of chronic pain. The study suggests that they can use video games as a way of easing pain without having to resort to pain medications or at least resulting in them needing smaller doses.

Re:Health benefits? (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928696)

Yup, that's exactly it. Any time you can distract a person or teach them how to ignore pain, as opposed to medicating it, is better. After all, would you rather be a morphine addict or know how to deal with pain on your own?

Re:Health benefits? (1)

freakmn (712872) | more than 7 years ago | (#15931707)

But would you rather be a morphine addict or a WOW addict [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Health benefits? (1)

timster (32400) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928578)

You seem to have missed the point -- if this research is true, it suggests that games could be useful as a treatment for chronic pain, or that they might have a place (along with other painkillers) as part of post-op pain treatment. This can be a very major health benefit as these useless forms of pain can have serious side effects by themselves and the drugs used to treat them also have side effects.

Get a kidney stone and we'll talk (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928929)

I had one about two years ago, and have another one sitting and waiting. After the initial burst of pain (which took a trip to the hospital for Dilaudid for pain and various other things to stop the constant vomiting) I had several days where I was working on passing it. I was stoned on Percocet the entire time, to the point where I had entire conversations I no longer remember with friends.

I spent a lot of time trying to find a decent dose of Percocet where I could be coherent but still deal with the pain levels. Anything that works to distract is good: I couldn't really read since I didn't have the concentration and I'd often fall asleep on a movie. I didn't play games, but I'll give it a try next time.

Ice as Treatment for RSI pain (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#15938404)

It's strange to hear about doctors giving kids computer games to reduce ice water pain - my doctor has me putting ice on my shoulder to reduce the pain and inflammation from RSI from too much computer use...

'Brain Trainig' (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15928570)

I'm thinking the submitter could use some 'Brain Trainig'.

Looks like someone's Brain Age needs improvement. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15928653)

'Brain Trainig'


The ironing is delicious.

This tolerance test is just silly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15928717)

Having a similar contest as a teenager in the Boy Scouts, we discovered that after a couple of practice runs...

We could keep our arms submerged until they died. The pain slowly climbed and then hit a plateau and then fell off as the receptors in the limb shut down.
So after a minute or two of having my arm underwater, we all decided that the contest had now become pointless. I waited to get some level of motor coordination back and went about my business.

What the hell kind of pansies do they do this research on?

Brain Trainig (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928725)

...will succeed the way 'Brain Trainig' has done with DS.
Perhaps the Slashdot editors could use a little brain training [spellcheck.net] of their own.

Re:Brain Trainig (0, Offtopic)

Zonk (12082) | more than 7 years ago | (#15929392)

Oh totally. I just recently got my Brain Age *down* to 32, which I consider a huge victory.

Oh, so the other two times this was posted ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15935483)

just weren't good enough?

-1 Offtopic (http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=194336& cid=15928570)
-1 Offtopic (http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=194336& cid=15928653)

Both before MobyDisk. Worthless /. mods. Time to go back to GNAA trolling.

Not too new, worked on a 'game' against acrophobia (1)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 7 years ago | (#15929049)

This is not entirely new; This is allready known, and used, in several hospitals when painful procedures (eg. wrapping off/on new bandages on burn-wound victims) take place: Just drop the kid behind a console, and while he is busy playing his game, the doctor goes to work: The distraction helps out -a lot- for these kids, and is one thing you -don't- hear good ol' Jack Thompson include in his insane rants.

Besides distraction, there are a lot more applications for 'games' in treatments:
I worked on a project aimed at 'treating' acrophobia (being afraid of heights), by creating virtual environments of high places (eg. a highrise building) and then letting those people gradually experience the different heights and let them slowly grow accustomed to what is actually happening when you are in a high spot (objects getting smaller, less sound of below is coming through 'up there', etc).

The advantage of this method as I experienced it is being able to transfer someone to a high spot without physically going there (later on in the therapy the patients are encouraged to go to pre-arranged spots of varying heights) and being able to 'measure' the reaction of the patient to the different situations. (I was -very- amazed people (acrophobics) could experience the same scare-symptons (by lack of a better word) by only looking at a virtual image/video/game of a high-place: I actually saw a woman faint when she was 'on top' of one of my skyrise buildings *chuckle*).

I also experimented with interactive elements within the map, as to distract the people from actually going up there (it was a simple tracking-game, where the people had to answer questions while slowly walking up the staircase of the different levels of the building), and this seemed to help even more in letting people get acquainted with the heights.

All in all, this has been a very rewarding project to work on, and showed me that games (besides being great entertainment, and (underestimated) learning tools), also do very well in treating some of these illnesses.

The Bene Gesserit did it (1)

tobozo (794087) | more than 7 years ago | (#15933332)

Cold water (of life?), pain box, tolerance 400% increased ...

hey, sounds like someone is looking for the Kwisatz Haderach
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