Technology in medicine has been a consistent evolution. Beginning with the creation of the thermometer and the microscope—and even electrotherapy—in the 1800s, the field of healthcare has always been improving. These improvements have led to significant increases in life expectancy around the world, but have become much more than adding years to a patient’s life span—they have also improved quality of life.
Mental health has always been of great concern in the healthcare field, but has gained considerably more attention recently. For example, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an alarming condition, contributing to up to 20 veterans per day committing suicide. Researchers and medical professionals have been trying to find a cure, and may have discovered a novel method for managing PTSD.
Video Games Help Veterans Recover
Technological advances in medicine have helped patients with a wide array of disorders, both physical and mental. Many options have been explored over the years, and in 2018 a new approach was taken that shows technology in medicine is not only progressive, but innovative as well.
A recent study found that video games were able to help veterans recover from such issues as PTSD and substance abuse. The number of participants in this study was limited to 20 war veterans—15 men and 5 women—who experienced these issues. As one of the participants stated, “I need flashes of light and noise, and 30 billion things going on at once.”
The study was led by Dr. Michelle Colder Carras and the games being played by the participants varied from sports, puzzles, gambling, and “shooter games”. The benefits, Carras stated, were stemmed from the connections these veterans made with the other video game players. They were able to have enough distraction to where they removed thoughts of drugs or alcohol, or the memories connected to their PTSD.
The researchers stated that gameplay may promote a mindfulness-like psychological escape, but can also provide the added benefits of confidence, personal growth, and social connection. Results from this study point to a much broader outlook on today’s technology in medicine and the ways in which it can cure.
Not Just for War Veterans
PTSD is a mental health disorder most notably associated with military veterans due to their experiences while deployed, yet it isn’t limited to only these service members. Those who have been involved in or witnessed traumatic events (i.e. car accidents or sexual assaults) are also at high risk for developing PTSD.
For these patients, they are likely able to place themselves in similar situations in a virtual environment where they can safely overcome their fears.
How Can Technology in Medicine Help Your Office?
While setting up video games in your office may sound like a dream for your patients—pediatricians especially—it wouldn’t be practical. Can you imagine limiting exam room times to approximately ten minutes with video games present?
Technology in medicine is also helping patients with the convenience of digital appointments. The telemedicine industry is set to grow 19% annually over the next six years and will be a $130 billion business by 2025.
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