by Dr. Reeja Tharu on  July 28, 2008 at 5:41 PM Health Watch
 Computer Games to Cope With Cancer
She is a look alike of Lara Coft. Armed with  a weapon called 'chemoblaster', she goes about demolishing her 'opponents' with effortless ease .............

Roxxi is the heroine of 'Re-Mission', a video game, designed by the California-based Hopelab. A 3-D shooter,Roxxi goes  through the bodies of   make-believe cancer patients, destroying  malignant cells, besides taking care of treatment side-effects and bacterial infections in them.

It is a well known fact that videogames, played in moderation, can hone problem- solving abilities in an individual and can  do wonders to the social skills of an attention -deficit child. Now,these games have impacted terminal illnesses.

Originally conceived in 1989, by Pam Omidyar, a Biology major from Tufts College, 'Re-Mission' took six years to take shape.

During her life as a researcher in immunology, Omidyar played video games to relax after work. It occurred to her, then, to create a video game exclusively for kids stricken with cancer, in order to help them understand and cope with their ailment.

By combining science, technology and empathy for cancer patients Pam Omidyar created the PC -based video game which was developed and promoted through Hope Lab, a unit which she founded. Her primary aim was to thwart frustrations and fears from young cancer patients, through fun and games.

Omidyar proposed that by simulating cancer, its effects and its treatment in a video game, and by prompting the player to attack the 'cancer cells', children and young adults could come to terms with their disease and its treatment modalities. By using 'chemo blaster' as the weapon, the importance of chemotherapy was reinforced in these young minds.

'Re-Mission' costs about 2.5million dollars to create but is distributed free of cost to cancer patients.

The Gamely Good

Hope Lab initiated a randomized controlled research trial on 375 cancer-afflicted adolescents and young adults from 34 different places within the United States, Australia and Canada. This was done to biologically assess the usefulness of the game. The following observations were recorded in the young subjects:

• The youngsters were able to identify with the protagonist of the game and understand their malady better
• The game help them to overcome their fear and frustrations
• It aided the patients to adhere to the treatment protocols
• Blood tests revealed that the patients' response to treatment was considerably improved
• Patients' knowledge about the disease was remarkably increased
Self-efficacy and a sense of control over the disease was developed.

With Re-Mission  becoming a runaway  success, the pioneers in this field are contemplating on creating games to manage pain and other maladies, besides cancer,in children. Some of these chronic diseases include sickle cell disease, autism, asthma, obesity and depression.

If an asthmatic dinosaur can instill laughter and confidence in a little child who is burdened with a chronic illness, who can deny him that? Serious computer games, particularly those for health, are here to stay!

Source: Medindia

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