Video game motivates cancer patients to fight disease

Every evening, Kalpana Chawla, 26, shoots cancer cells with a blue laser beam, while trying to cross over to the next level in Re-Mission.

Chawla, who was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of blood cancer, two years ago, looks forward to playing the computer game. “I play this game every day for about an hour. I don’t share it with my sister. I told her that this is my game and I will fight it [cancer],” said Chawla, a Dadar resident.

Chawla is one of the 20 cancer patients associated with Kartavya Healtheon, a patient and disease management company, who have been given the game free of cost.

HopeLab, California, developed the game to motivate patients to adhere to the treatment and prepare them to bear the side effects.

In Re-Mission, players direct a character named Roxxi as she travels through the bodies of fictional cancer patients destroying cancer cells, battling bacterial infections and managing side effects associated with cancer. The weapons provided include laser beams, swords, guns and medicines to increase power.

A study published in Pediatrics, a US peer-reviewed journal, in 2007, stated that the video game intervention significantly improved treatment adherence.

“The objective of providing these games is to help patients learn about the disease and motivate them to adhere to the treatment,” said Anil Nayak, director and co-founder, Kartavya.

“Studies have shown that positive thinking improves immunity of the patients to fight infections and helps them tolerate the treatment,” said Dr Tejinder Singh, consulting oncologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.


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