The Shocking New Way You Can Treat ADHD, According to the FDA

The FDA just approved the first ever digital therapy for children with ADHD.

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common mental health disorder that manifests in symptoms such as impulsivity and having difficulty staying focused. It's usually diagnosed in young children (nearly four million kids ages six to 11 are affected by it), but it can last into adulthood, too. While ADHD treatment typically involves therapy or medication, a new—and shocking—solution has just been brought to the table: video games.

On June 15, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this revolutionary digital treatment, which is not only the first ever video game-based therapy for ADHD, but also the first of its kind for any type of condition. It is aimed at children ages eight to 12 who have specific types of ADHD, and it's available only with a prescription. Doctors will likely recommend playing the mobile app, called EndeavorRx, for 30 minutes per day, five days a week, over a one-month period, according to CNN.

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"With EndeavorRx, we're using technology to help treat a condition in an entirely new way as we directly target neurological function through medicine that feels like entertainment," Eddie Martucci, PhD, the CEO of Akili, the company that designed the game, said in a statement.

To play, children select an avatar and guide it through an obstacle course, dodging targets and earning points. According to Akili, EndeavorRx improves attention function, as was reported in data from five clinical trials, involving more than 600 kids. One of the studies, published in The Lancet Digital Health, found that one third of the kids no longer had a measurable attention deficit after a four-week span. Furthermore, half of parents saw a significant change in their child's day-to-day impairments in a month, and 68 percent noticed it after a second month of treatment.

"The EndeavorRx device offers a non-drug option for improving symptoms associated with ADHD in children and is an important example of the growing field of digital therapy and digital therapeutics," Jeffrey Shuren, MD, JD, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement. And for more health benefits of playing games, check out the 10 Ways Playing Games Keeps You Young.

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