Some video games can help fight cancer, obesity


This could be your brain on video games: getting smarter, feeling stronger.

In an article that perhaps doesn’t surprise gamers, researchers say that games like Dance Dance Revolution can help fight obesity. And games like Packy & Marlon, designed to teach children and adolescents about a condition such as diabetes, can make users feel empowered to cope and even get better.

Plenty of senior centers have used the Wii games to provide activity for older people, but the boxing and bowling games have been found effective in neurorehabilitation of people with Parkinson’s disease or who have had a stroke, the researchers said in Wednesday’s issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The hope is that games made for recreation, and games designed for therapeutic uses, could promote such qualities as a fighting spirit, improved movement or reduced anxiety. In Packy & Marlon, for example, players learn to manage diabetes while playing toward the ultimate goal of saving a summer camp from destruction.


The World Health Organization has promoted patient empowerment as a way to manage disease and promote health.

A game was recently tried by pediatric cancer patients at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. The game is designed to improve resilience, empowerment by using visualization. Visualization has been shown to be helpful for competitive athletes’ neurological recovery after injury, among other situations, the authors wrote.

“Although early clinical findings on health-promoting video games are promising, their effects on theapeutic outcomes have yet to be clinically validated in pivotal dose-response [or rather play-time response] studies that include large sample sizes,” the authors wrote.

“Interactive health technologies” offer many opportunities for study and trial, the authors wrote. They also noted that the gaming industry moves to new products faster than clinical trials for medical therapies; to overcome that challenge, everyone involved needs to collaborate.