Videogame approved by FDA for ADHD: Should you try it?

by ih-chi admin

The FDA recently approved a new type of therapy for children (between the ages of eight and twelve years old) with ADHD in the form of a videogame. The game is called EndeavorRX and is available solely by prescription from a doctor. Dr. Dilip Karnik, one of Child Neurology Consultants of Austin’s board-certified pediatric neurologists and ADHD specialist, shares what parents should know and gives his expert take on it. Here’s what he has to say:

Many of you may already know that there is a new therapy approved by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) for ADHD that is not another medication. For those who are reluctant to start a pill for your child, which includes many parents, this may feel like a great relief. Of course, the question is: Is this a good fit for your child?

Before I answer that, let me give you the information about this videogame.

How it Works

This product, EndeavorRX, was developed by Akili Interactive after seven years of research on children with ADHD between ages eight and twelve years. The therapy involves playing an obstacle-dodging, target-collecting game for 25 minutes a day, five days a week, for a duration of four weeks. After playing for 25 minutes, the game shuts off until the next day, preventing your child from playing any longer. The game is designed to challenge the child’s attention skills by requiring them to perform multiple tasks.

EndeavorRX is available only with a doctor’s prescription after which it can be downloaded onto a mobile device.

This videogame therapy was approved by the FDA after reviewing the data from various studies conducted by the company on 600 children during product development. 

Though the studies were done on children who were not on any medication, this mode of videogame therapy can be used in conjunction with other conventional methods. A patient will complete a one-month treatment, and if needed, it can be repeated again for another month after a few weeks break. Parents can track their child’s improvement by viewing the summary screen available as the game is being played. It’s important to note that improvements were primarily seen in attention issues and not with hyperactivity.

This new FDA approval is a great relief for many parents who are reluctant to put a child on medication and are seeking alternative therapies. However, there are many concerns raised about the product

Some Concerns

Almost all pediatric professionals are worried that ADHD children already partake in far too much screen time in lieu of doing homework or other physically and socially beneficial activities. Many are trying to decrease screen time for this very reason, and the idea of more screen time--even in the form of therapy--may be deemed  counterproductive.  Another concern is that the data was collected by researchers who developed the product and not vetted by unbiased scientific studies. Time alone will answer these questions.

My personal take on this is that I would like to keep an open mind, and with caution, try it out on children with mild cases who have only attention issues and not hyperactivity — especially in cases where parents are reluctant to use medication.

I also want parents to know that this is a new therapy, and not many things are known about it at this time. We have seen similar digital therapies like neurofeedback, Cogmed, Lumosity, and Play Attention in the past, but they really did not replace other time-proven modalities. I do not believe this to be a great breakthrough that will circumvent anything we are currently doing, however it may prove to be one other option for those with mild cases looking to try something new.

Child Neurology Consultants of Austin has experience treating a wide range of neurological and rheumatic disorders in children and teenagers from 0 to 21 years old.

For an appointment with one of our specialists and to learn about our current telehealth services, please visit us here.