Research points to positive impact of gaming for improved patient recovery


The concept of video game therapy is nothing unusual, and was introduced at the Doernbecher hospital at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland last year. That particular initiative was aimed at younger patients, but research suggests that the benefits of playing video games could be reaped by patients of all ages – but the nature of the games is likely to be quite different for different age groups.

Gaming is better than watching TV

That might sound like “damning with faint praise,” but every nurse has observed patients who stare at the TV for hours on end. While it helps pass the time, few would suggest it is particularly beneficial to recovery. The study showed that patients who play online or video games for fun exhibited more overall happiness than those who watched TV.

The game itself is less important. Various studies have looked at the positive impacts of a whole array of titles from Minecraft to Mario to different types of word games.

Gaming keeps the mind sharp

Whether it is solitaire, sudoku or Words with Friends, playing games demands acts of memory, concentration and problem-solving. It has been shown to benefit all ages, but especially older people, and researchers believe it could reduce the likelihood of anxiety, depression and similar conditions.

Older players prefer the lure of the casino

It’s one thing getting youngsters playing the latest role play game, fantasy adventure, or first-person shooter on a console. Games like these might even appeal to patients in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s. Beyond that, however, tastes tend to change.

A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis identified health benefits associated with playing online casino games. The study provided a wide choice of virtual wheel, card and dice games, particularly selecting those that are focused on luck such as roulette or sic bo live casino games. This was to eliminate skill as a factor and to ensure all players were on the same baseline.

Now casino gaming is quite different to the games used in the Portland study. It conjures up images of Monte Carlo or Las Vegas and spending an evening at a casino is a sophisticated pastime for responsible adults. In short, older patients are more amenable to playing online casino games as part of a study. The upshot concluded by the researchers was that playing online gambling games could bring health benefits.

Gaming boosts happiness and wellbeing

There are lots of campaigns about safe gambling, which talk about the “fun” aspects and discuss potential disasters that could make the fun stop. The point, however, is that when played responsibly, the act of playing games like roulette and sic bo is fun. Patients recovering in a hospital don’t always have a lot of that, and researchers have found that when the brain is engaged in a task that is fun, it performs better.

The beauty of games like sic bo or roulette is that winning and losing evens out in the end, and the game is just as much fun. With these low-volatility games, players do not need to stake much money, and they will most often break more or less even. The point is, the benefit comes from the act of playing the game, not from winning $10 from the casino here and there (although that is beneficial too!).


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