WSJ feature: Potential of Game-based Biofeedback Interventions

19-06-2020

On June 8th our research with DEEP was featured in a wonderful article in the Wall Street Journal written by Todd Feathers. 

Biofeedback has been effectively used to treat a wide variety of physical and mental health issues such as chronic pain and anxiety. Unfortunately, clinicians have mostly had to rely on expensive medical hardware and biofeedback training programs which were not very intuitive nor engaging. However, the WSJ article describes how the rise in wearable biosensors and immersive technology such as Virtual Reality has opened the door for the development of more engaging and potentially more accessible forms of biofeedback therapy. 

DEEP was highlighted as a promising example of this new wave of biofeedback interventions alongside other wonderful projects such as Healium

Four years ago, the GEMH lab started a close collaboration with Owen Harris and Niki Smit (Monobanda), the creators of DEEP. Since then, we have done extensive research to asses DEEP's efficacy in alleviating anxiety. We conducted various pilot studies, an implementation trial in a special eduction school, and a Randomized Controlled Trial. We also wrote an extensive review about biofeedback interventions for anxiety regulation. This review includes a detailed set of guidelines for a new phase of research and development of biofeedback interventions, inspired by game design and the potential of wearable biosensors.

Following our research, the developers aim to bring DEEP to the masses by creating a stunning new experience for the Oculus Quest. In addition, the developers are collaborating with health care partners to find new ways in which DEEP could contribute to people's wellbeing. For example, they are currently exploring whether DEEP could be used in the current Covid-19 pandemic to relieve the stress of front-line medical workers or to support people's recovery from the virus. 

In addition to DEEP, there are various projects in the GEMH-lab that focus on using biofeedback video games to facilitate emotion regulation, all of which are listed here. One of these games, Mindlight, was even found to be just as effective as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy!

Needless to say, in our lab we wholeheartedly believe that a combination of biofeedback, video games, and VR is a promising avenue to improve people's wellbeing in an embodied, playful and accessible way.


Author

Joanneke Weerdmeester

Researcher, psychologist, PhD-candidate, gamer, dungeon master, language enthusiast and lover of all things geeky.

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