People who experience traumatic brain injury (TBI) have a long recovery process. They often struggle to regain abilities in carrying out everyday tasks or to return to work. These issues are thought to come from difficulties in processing basic information that result from TBI. A new study from Macquarie University in Australia investigated how to help TBI patients recover their information processing abilities using video games. The study suggests that playing action video games can help TBI patients process information more quickly.
The study is based on previous research demonstrating that people who play action video games make faster, more accurate judgments. The research team wanted to find out if this process could work for TBI patients. For the study, TBI patients played a first person shooter video game, like Medal of Honor, on a commercially available gaming console. The patients trained on the game and they learned skills and strategies based on problems they encountered in the game. The research team compared the attention and information processing abilities of TBI patients participating in the video game training to patients in a control group.
The patients who received the video game training got better at playing the game. Moreover, they improved their speed and success rates in carrying out everyday tasks, compared to the control group.
Study author Dr. Alexandra Vakili explains that “This type of injury can have lifelong implications. Rehabilitation is a long process, but without intervention the patient may never return to work. The economic benefits of retraining cognitive functioning benefits both the individual and the community at large.”
If additional, more rigorous studies demonstrate that video games can benefit TBI patients, video game interventions could become an effective, accessible treatment for TBI.
This research is published in the open access journal Cogent Psychology.