Psychiatry Archives

Virtual Reality Forest Project Creates Novel Environment for Dementia Patients, Caretakers (VIDEO)

alzheimers forest Virtual Reality Forest Project Creates Novel Environment for Dementia Patients, Caretakers (VIDEO)

Video games have been used in a number of therapeutic applications, such as managing pain in burn victims and helping youngsters deal with depression. A new project in Australia is bringing together video game technology with gesture recognition and some other components to create a virtual reality interactive environment for dementia patients and their caretakers. The project is still in the development stage, and is looking for crowdsourced funds, but the video below shows off the current prototype that will eventually include a 10 m x 10 m projection screen, a touch display, and special lighting.

 

Project page: A fun virtual forest for dementia…

(hat tip: Engadget)

SunSprite Hopes to Help You Get Enough Sun

SunSprite Hopes to Help You Get Enough Sun

Researchers have been using light monitors for decades to study everything from how the body adapts to changing sleep schedules to what effect light has on our mood, sleep, and overall health. A lot of this knowledge could be made more useful if people knew what their personal exposure to light is.

SunSprite, a new device that is scheduled to come out in a few months thanks to Indiegogo crowdsource funding, is designed to monitor and record your daily exposure to light. It clips on to your shirt, purse, or dress, and uses a solar panel to measure brightness. The same panel generates the electric power needed to run the SunSprite, so you won’t ever have to charge any batteries.

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CogCubed Aims to Bring a Tangible User Interface (TUI) to ADHD Patients

CogCubed Aims to Bring a Tangible User Interface (TUI) to ADHD Patients

Games are usually associated with a dearth of productivity, but since the beginning of this decade there has been a growing movement to apply them to solve real-world problems such as improving patient health. Most of these games rely on a graphical user interface (GUI), but we recently learned of a new type of gameplay being developed called the tangible user interface (TUI). CogCubed is applying the TUI to help diagnose and eventually offer treatment to patients with ADHD and other cognitive issues, especially those related to executive functioning. They recently announced a Phase II clinical trial with Johns Hopkins among other institutions to test their technology. We had an opportunity to ask their Founder and CEO, Kurt Roots, a few questions about what the company is up to.

Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: What does CogCubed do? 

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Mind Med: Easing ADHD Symptoms Without Medication

Mind Med: Easing ADHD Symptoms Without Medication

Currently available ADHD medications are typically very strong, habit forming drugs, whose side-effects can often be worse than the disorder they are intended to treat. As an ADHD patient, this editor took the liberty of testing an iPhone app designed to help ease the symptoms of the disorder, either as a supplement to medication, or as a standalone treatment option. The ADHD treatment app was designed by Mind Med, a psychiatric disorder neuro-cognitive treatment technology start-up based in Ontario, Canada. According to their website, Mind Med claims their app is based on scientific and clinical research, and is shown to improve ADHD related focus.

The premise of the app is to train the patient’s executive functions, a set of cognitive abilities related to learning, communication, behavior, decision making, working memory, motivation, and self management, which are typically inhibited by the disorder. The four intended primary functions of this app are to significantly improve concentration, work on boosting learning skills, develop self-discipline and impulse control, and to increase alertness and clarity.

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E-Readers More Beneficial for Dyslexia Than Paper

E-Readers More Beneficial for Dyslexia Than Paper

Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disorder in children. Dyslexia affects up to 7% of schoolchildren and is a major source of morbidity and costs as children develop. Efforts to find strategies to encourage easier learning for this population are a priority in primary education.

In this context, a recent study published in PLOS ONE has found that the use of e-readers among dyslexics significantly improved reading speed and comprehension, when compared with traditional presentations on paper. The research was led by Matthew Schneps, director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Schneps et al. asked 103 high school student volunteers to read text both via an iPod Touch and on paper in standard format. All of the students had been diagnosed with dyslexia, but had normal vision and no histories of neurological disorders. The students found it easier to read by iPod than paper, and for the e-reader population there was a slight increase in the speed with which students read and an improvement in comprehension.

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Clevermind for iPad Helps Alzheimer’s Patients Exercise Their Minds

Clevermind for iPad Helps Alzheimer's Patients Exercise Their Minds

Take a quick look at the app store for whatever computer or device you’re currently reading this on, and you’ll likely find at least one “brain-training” app that claims to increase your cognitive abilities through a series of puzzles and exercises. A new app for the iPad called Clevermind takes a similar approach to mental exercise, but is designed specifically for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Clevermind is more than just a collection of games, however. As management of Alzheimer’s involves more than just mental exercise, Clevermind also includes other tools, such as social networking, food and nutrition tools, and medical information. The entire interface has large, easy-to-read buttons and is guided by a Siri-like assistant named MYIRA.

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New EEG Based Test Helps Diagnose ADHD with Greater Confidence

New EEG Based Test Helps Diagnose ADHD with Greater Confidence

Psychological disorders are usually diagnosed by trained psychiatrists that watch for certain behavior characteristics that are telltale signs of underlying conditions. Experience and a keen eye are often all that a doctor has to work with, often making diseases like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) be inconsistently diagnosed from doctor to doctor.

Now a new test from NEBA Health of Augusta, Ga has been approved by the FDA that may help bring a new level of objectivity to the diagnosis of ADHD. Called EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA), the system calculates the ratio between the brain’s theta and beta waves. Children with ADHD are known to have high theta/beta ratios compared with less hyperactive kids. While the new system can help identify those with such brain wave ratios, the diagnosis of ADHD still needs a combination of objective and subjective findings for an accurate conclusion. The test requires about 15-20 minutes of cooperation from the child while wearing an EEG cap, but is otherwise non-invasive and pretty much pain free, save for the discomfort of wearing the cap.

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PIP Biofeedback Game Controller Helps You Achieve Inner Calm (VIDEO)

PIP Biofeedback Game Controller Helps You Achieve Inner Calm (VIDEO)

Do your hands get all sweaty when you spot that special someone or when a big decision comes down to the wire? A new device out of Dublin, Ireland called the PIP measures the changes of the conductivity of your skin that occurs when your sweat glands open (referred to as the Galvanic Skin Response, or GSR) and helps you manage your stress levels.

PIP is more than just a GSR sensor, though. It’s a Bluetooth-enabled game controller that makes relaxing more fun. Pair up PIP with an iOS or Android device, and PIP will measure your GSR, determine your stress levels, and, in the case of the game Relax & Race, will make your character move faster as you calm down. Galvanic, the company behind PIP, has also created The Loom, a game in which your calmness levels turn a snowy, winter landscape into a sunny summer scene, and Lie Detective, which turns PIP into a portable lie detector.

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SentiMetrix Uses Artificial Intelligence to Detect PTSD

SentiMetrix Uses Artificial Intelligence to Detect PTSD

Use the Internet long enough and you’ll discover that it’s an effective forum for expressing your deepest feelings and secrets to millions of other people while remaining anonymous at the same time. It’s especially a popular place for people who have trouble opening up to a real person, such as those who have recently experienced traumatic events.

A data analytics company called SentiMetrix is analyzing this behavior to help psychologists, psychiatrists, and other clinicians identify symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers. It accomplishes this by means of what many would think is counterintuitive and impersonal for assessing one’s mental health – artificial intelligence.

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