Video games are hot in healthcare right now.
A fringe topic not too long ago, the subject gained a sense of legitimacy in July, when publisher Mary Ann Liebert Inc. introduced a new journal called Games for Health: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications. The first issue is due out this fall.
That's right, there's now a peer-reviewed, scientific journal specifically examining the role video games can play in advancing individual and population health, the healthcare industry and personal wellness. And this week, Liebert announced a companion newsletter called Games for Health Industry Insider, which starts publication on Sept. 29. I can see both titles being good resources for MobiHealthNews.
If you think this is an anomaly or a journal that's ahead of its time, may I remind you that the Journal of the American Medical Association published a paper earlier this year that said video games deserve "serious attention" in healthcare.
Adding further weight to the notion that gaming can be an important part of healthcare, the University of Missouri just released news about a study underway at the school that incorporates Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing technology to help prevent falls and spot other potential health problems in seniors. A related study uses motion sensors from widely available security systems.
Researchers from Mizzou's Sinclair School of Nursing and School of Engineering installed Kinect for Xbox 360 in a Columbia, Mo., nursing home and gave wearable sensors to residents to help measure changes in gait, a key indicator of the likelihood of falls. Additional sensors on beds were used to detect changes in sleeping patterns. Alerts get sent to nursing staff when there is a change that might signify a health issue.
"The potential that we've learned for early illness detection could revolutionize what's happening in the way that we diagnose problems of older adults. We know from the research that we can pick things up 10 days to two weeks before critical health-change events happen," nursing professor Marilyn Rantz said in a video released by the university.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Microsoft itself joined in. On the Microsoft HealthBlog, Dr. Bill Crounse, the Redmond Empire's senior director for worldwide health, promoted the latest episode of Microsoft Health Tech Today, the company's online talk show about how the company's technology is advancing healthcare.
The subject of the newest video? Kinect.
Gaming in health—particularly mobile gaming—also is the subject of a forthcoming MobiHealthNews report. If you recall, Dr. Leslie Saxon, executive director of the University of Southern California's Center for Body Computing, said last month that she'd like to take a mobile gaming app like Angry Birds and "diabetize it."
Yes, we're hearing a lot lately about gaming in health and healthcare. I don't think it's a coincidence. Ever since Nintendo debuted the Wii Fit as a fitness tool in 2008, gaming for health has started to break out of a niche and become mainstream. It seems as if we're now reaching critical mass.