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Video game with biofeedback teaches children to curb their anger
Date:10/25/2012

second group, with 18 children, got these same treatments, but spent the last 15 minutes of their psychotherapy session playing RAGE Control.

After five sessions, the video gamers were significantly better at keeping their heart rate down. They showed clinically significant decreases in anger scores on the State Trait Anger Expression Inventory-Child and Adolescent (STAXI-CA), and specifically on:

  • the intensity of anger at a particular time
  • the frequency of angry feelings over time
  • expression of anger towards others or objects.

The gamers also had a decrease in suppressed, internalized anger that reached marginal statistical significance. In contrast, the standard-treatment group showed no significant change from baseline on any of the above measures.

The video gamers gave their therapy experience high marks for helpfulness (5 to 6 on a scale of 7). "Kids reported feeling better control of their emotions when encountering day to day frustrations on the unit," says Ducharme. "While this was a pilot study, and we weren't able to follow the kids after they were discharged, we think the game will help them control their emotions in other environments."

More studies in progress

The investigators are now conducting a randomized, controlled clinical trial of RAGE Control in the outpatient clinic at Boston Children's that adds a cooperative component. The children team up with a parent for 10 game sessions at the clinic; if either the parent's or the child's heart rate goes up, neither of them can shoot, forcing them to help calm each other. (Click here for more information.)

The research team plans another clinical trial to test whether letting children take RAGE Control home, to play with parents and siblings, will increase its effect.

In addition, Kahn is spearheading a team effort to develop toys to enhance emotional regulation skills in children too young for RAGE C
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Contact: Meghan Weber
Meghan.Weber@childrens.harvard.edu
617-919-3110
Boston Children's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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