Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – neurodevelopmental disorder which is diagnosed roughly in 6% of children. It is characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsiveness and lack of concentration. There might be different reasons that can cause it. For example complications during pregnancy/childbirth, child was born with low weigh, whether the pregnant woman had bad habits etc.
Unfortunately, ADHD may cause a lot of inconveniences for child or teenager, such as learning difficulties, tic disorders, rapid fatigue, the presence of phobias, anxiety and depression. This list of course much larger, but now you can understand how important to detect this disorder as fast as possible. Some people find out that they have ADHD in adult age, but treating in childhood will have much bigger effort.
Current and most obvious markers to diagnose ADHD are questionnaires, interviews and subjective observation. That’s why researchers from Aalto University, Åbo Akademi and the University of Helsinki University created the Executive Performance in Everyday Living – EPELI VR game. The main vocation of this game is to detect Attention deficit disorder, in the way a child would not even understand being tested. The principle of working is monitoring the player’s eye movement during he or she does 13 routine tasks in VR. But there is always a distractor, for example an insect flying around or the sound of working TV.
Beside eye movement, EPELI counts how often and how many times buttons were pressed by the participant. The game analyzes how effective tasks were done or how the child deals with different distractors. To test the efficiency of EPELI, researches asked to participate 37 subjects with diagnosed ADHD and 36 without this disorder. Results says that children with ADHD looked longer on some certain specific details in their environment, but generally their view rushed from object to object. This may indicate delayed visual development and worse processing of information than other children.
The main value and advantage of this method is its motivation. This implies that it is much more interesting to being tested by VR game than do boring tests or conversations that make the child feel uncomfortable. Project leader Juha Salmitaival says, “We want to develop a gamification-based digital therapy that can help children with ADHD get excited about doing things they wouldn’t otherwise do. There’s already an approved game for ADHD rehabilitation in the US”.
Honestly, I was personally shocked by the creativity of this way ADHD detecting. I believe that this project can have a great future and simplify the process of further therapy. The researches also announced the plans to use the game to uncover ADHD at adult age, autism, brain damage or even cerebral palsy.