Several Surrey-area people and firms are connected to a research study involving “Dino Island,” a therapeutic video game aimed at helping children with neuro-developmental disabilities.
Surrey’s HealthTech Connex Inc. is partnering with organizations including the University of Victoria and the Child Development Foundation of BC, also based in Surrey, on a multi-site clinical research study of the game.
The program consists of five “serious” video games, each created to deliver therapeutic benefits while looking and feeling like a video game.
“Dino Island” was developed by researchers at University of Victoria.
The game and program “demonstrates what is possible when Canadian researchers, health professionals, technological innovators, and our funding partners work together to meet a vital need,” said Dr. Sarah Macoun, project lead in Victoria.
“Between seven and 14 per cent of children live with developmental disorders and cognitive challenges. We’ve created a treatment program that kids are willing to give the time required to make it effective, doesn’t require a clinical expert to deliver it, and can be used anywhere that an online video game can be used.”
Among game-players in the “Dino Island” study is Langley 12-year-old Addison Cox, whose mother, Jennifer, works as a Grade 6 teacher at Adams Road Elementary in Cloverdale.
“She started playing about a month ago, and so far she’s really liked it,” Jennifer said of Addison, who has autism. “It’s based mostly on memory. I sit beside her and keep track of the strategies she’s using.”
The game involves collecting coins, changing the costumes of characters and more.
“The better she does, the more advanced the levels go up,” Jennifer added. “But if it gets too hard, it scales down, adjusts to the user’s level, so she can’t get stuck at any point. I like that feature. It’s all about transfering skills learned in the game to everyday life, like school.”
The study involves the NeuroCatch Platform brain function monitoring device employed by HealthTech Connex’s Centre for Neurological Studies, in Surrey.
Clinicians, family supports, educational assistants, and all caregivers of children living with developmental disorders and cognitive challenges are invited to explore the Dino Island Intervention Program, online at uvicdinoisland.cogtrain.ca.
“The University of Victoria is currently welcoming registrations for children that will benefit from treatment to improve their attention and executive function, and will be supported by a caregiver who is able to complete the online training and offer support with the games,” according to a news release about the project.