Video Games as the Doctor Prescribed

Overview For the first time, treatment for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be delivered through an action video game experience, cleared by the FDA.

Digital therapeutics is a budding branch of digital health technologies that allows consumers to take more control of their own health care in a variety of ways. And though video games have been considered a vice for children, they are now joining the ranks of effective medical treatment.

Frequent CES® speaker and Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® member Akili Interactive has harnessed the excitement of video games to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In a treatment cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company’s personalized gameplay experience was created with algorithms designed to improve cognitive function.

Capturing Attention the Right Way

Akili Interactive’s EndeavorRx is driven by propriety technology, Selective Stimulus Management Engine (SSME), that targets the neural systems involved in attention control, such as focus, interference processing and multitasking.

SSME aims to help engage the brain in managing multiple streams of information in an increasingly complex environment. The algorithms incorporated in EndeavorRx enable it to adjust the difficulty level automatically to suit the treatment needs of each patient.

Other core technologies included in Akili’s product target the neural systems involved in impulsivity, memory, special navigation, goal management and more, getting to the root of many challenges that children with ADHD face.

When Medicine Is Safe and Fun

Traditionally, doctors have prescribed behavioral drugs to treat attention deficit. For those who are uncomfortable with pharmacological treatments or for patients who experience negative side effects from drug-based treatments, EndeavorRx now presents an alternative.

There is a little bit of a psychological assumption that the pharmaceutical industry must partner and deliver this for it to be a legitimate medicine

Eddie Martucci
CEO and Cofounder of Akili Interactive

In a study, the EndeavorRx interface was used 25 minutes a day, five days a week for four weeks, and was found to significantly improve attentional functioning.

The Future of Digital Therapeutics

Technologies such as Akili’s SSME may be laying the groundwork to push digital therapeutics toward more mainstream use. Martucci believes that digital therapeutics presents a solution to the high costs of care and accessibility of medicine.

“There will be a big push to educate the world about digital therapeutics to get this integrated into mainstream health care medicine,” he said on the CES 2020 stage.

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