USF using video games to improve patient care

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University of South Florida nursing professor Dr. John Clochesy has teamed up with engineers and researchers to design interactive video games to improve patient care.

The games use avatar based decision support technology to guide patients and caregivers through what can be a difficult and overwhelming process.

"When family members come in and then the health care team shows up, all the questions ahead in their mind just go blank because they are shocked that somebody is there. We give them a chance to think of the questions, practice them in the virtual world so that they're prepared," explains Dr. Clochesy

His team also created a virtual game to help cancer patients. "One is to help patients who are receiving chemotherapy better manage their nausea and vomiting. We do that a lot through hydration and careful selection of what food they eat during the period right after their chemotherapy."  

Dr. Clochesy says it also helps patients make better choice. "If they choose the good thing, they see the avatar feeling better. If they choose not such healthy things, they see the person getting sick,” he explains.

They have tested the game on patients suffering from hypertension and it has been successful. They found that both systolic and diastolic blood pressures reduced in people using the game.

"It’s not to replace anyone but to really enhance the face to face that we have with other providers, “says Clochesy.