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Geek Therapy
How Geek Culture is saving the world. Can geeky, nerdy, and techy things help heal the world? Absolutely. | For the Geek Therapy Podcast and more, visit http://www.geektherapy.com.
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Virtual Training Can Reduce Kids’ Social Anxiety

Virtual Training Can Reduce Kids’ Social Anxiety | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it
New research shows how technology can be used to create an ideal setting for teaching skills to children with anxiety. 

 

Researchers at the University of Central Florida’s Anxiety Disorders Clinic and the Atlanta-based company Virtually Better developed a new, one-of-a-kind computer simulation program that enables children to interact with avatars playing the roles of classmates, teachers and a principal.

 

The simulation, designed for children ages 8 to 12, allows clinicians to play the roles of the avatars while the children sit at a computer in a different room and respond to situations they encounter routinely.

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New Test Smells Cancer on Your Breath

New Test Smells Cancer on Your Breath | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

First unveiled on June 2 at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, this cancer-detecting breathalyzer system, which is still awaiting clinical trials, is able to conduct prescreening for both breast cancer and lung cancer. Developed by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the cancer breathalyzer could drastically reduce costs for American patients, while enabling expanded screening in countries with inadequate infrastructure and taboos against mammograms.

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CAMH: The new technology that’s opening doors

CAMH: The new technology that’s opening doors | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

Technology at the Centre for Addition and Mental Health (CAMH) is not only helping researchers better understand mental illness, but offering less invasive treatment options.

 

This summer, CAMH will be the first psychiatric facility ever to receive a DNA sequencing machine, which can examine single DNA molecules in the genes that react with psychiatric drugs. This in-depth testing will reveal how people of different ancestries respond to different medications, making it possible to create more individualized drug regimes.

 

As well, Kennedy is working to make personalized medicine mainstream through “lab-on-a-chip” biotechnology that would allow patients to easily share their genetic risk data with health-care providers.

 

A different kind of technology at CAMH is shedding new light on the causes and possible cures for Alzheimer’s disease. The advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines at the new Research Imaging Centre have helped Dr. Aristotle Voineskos detect a critical gene variation that’s involved in both promoting learning and memory and in predisposing the brain to the disease.

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Computer games can dramatically boost children's exam results

Computer games can dramatically boost children's exam results | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

Research by Yardleys School, a top state secondary in Birmingham, compared results among children who accessed games produced by the Doncaster education company i-education.

 

Teachers said the use of the system – employed by some 900 primary and secondary schools – promoted “stealth learning”, with children unwittingly picking up key skills while being engrossed in computer games.

 

It emerged that 70 per cent of regular users exceeded pre-set GCSE targets in maths compared with just 40 per cent of other pupils.

 

“It’s giving students the opportunity to continue their learning outside of lessons. Students are still playing football and having fun but they are also heavily engaged in continuing their learning outside of school.”

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High-tech approaches long dreamed of but not possible to fight cancer emerge

High-tech approaches long dreamed of but not possible to fight cancer emerge | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

New research shows a sharp escalation in the weapons race against cancer, with several high-tech approaches long dreamed of but not possible or successful until now.

 

The field continues to move toward more precise treatments with fewer side effects and away from old-style chemotherapy that was “like dropping a bomb on the body,” Dr. Richard Pazdur said.

 

Other doctors, including Pfizer’s cancer drug development chief, Dr. Mace Rothenberg, noted progress on new diagnostic tests to predict which drugs will work for which patients. Cost, time and difficulty have kept many of them from being practical in everyday settings for cancer patients, but “a lot of these barriers are falling,” Rothenberg said.

 

“Every time we say ‘this technology is 5 to 10 years off, we’ve been wrong” and progress has come sooner, he said.

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Video games help autistic students in classrooms

Video games help autistic students in classrooms | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it
Researchers are studying if off-the-shelf video games can spark a breakthrough in treating autism.

 

Can off-the-shelf video games spark a breakthrough in treating autism? That's the question researchers are asking as educators quietly discover the therapeutic uses of motion-controlled sensors. The devices are popular with gamers: Microsoft this week said it had sold more than 19 million Kinect motion-sensor units since introducing it in November 2010.

 

Now autism researchers, teachers and therapists are installing them in classrooms and clinics, reporting promising results for a fraction of the price of typical equipment. Could a teacher armed with a $300 Xbox and a $10 copy of Double Fine Happy Action Theater do as much good as months of intensive therapy?


"Nobody thought of it as a therapeutic device," said Marc Sirkin of Autism Speaks, a New York-based advocacy group. Earlier this spring, when he first got wind of computer engineering students at the University of Michigan hacking the Kinect to develop autism games, he bought a ticket on a red-eye flight to see for himself. "It turns out you don't have to look very far, you don't have to scratch very deep, to go, 'Wait a minute. There's something really cool here.' "

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Virtual Reality: A New Therapy for PTSD

Virtual Reality: A New Therapy for PTSD | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

Researchers at the University of California and a Pasadena counseling center for first-responders have hit upon the idea of using virtual reality -- computer simulations -- not only to treat the emotional ravages of war and catastrophe, but also to try to prevent them. As post-traumatic stress disorder -- the scourge of battle-weary warriors -- reaches epidemic proportions, the nation's fascination with video games is about to propel PTSD therapy into an entirely new dimension.

 

Headington's research has focused, in part, on dissecting the physiological causes and symptoms of post-traumatic stress, using sophisticated monitoring devices to track changes in body chemistry and the effectiveness of coping strategies.

 

Part of the program is a repair effort, to help victims of PTSD get over it by putting them back into terrifying situations -- only this time in a safe "virtual" environment where they can learn to rein in their emotions without the crushing pressure of actual threat.

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Beyond exergames: New games for health go mobile and social

Beyond exergames: New games for health go mobile and social | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it
What's the next big thing in electronic games that are good for you? Developers and researchers aim at health games that work.

 

Hundreds of researchers are looking for the next big thing in electronic games that are good for you. These include so-called exergames that help you eat better, manage chronic illness or recover from a crisis.

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Company uses technology to help with weight loss

Company uses technology to help with weight loss | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it
Jeff Hyman of Deerfield created Retrofit, a customized weight loss program that uses Skype and other technology to encourage people to develop new behaviors over time.

 

Retrofit assigns all clients a dietician, an exercise physiologist and a behavior therapist that all help the client work toward a realistic goal. The 65 weight loss experts, who are scattered around the country, meet with clients via Skype every week for ongoing consultation.

 

As part of Retrofit’s program, clients are provided with a wireless activity tracker that tracks steps taken, calories burned, sleep patterns and other factors involved in weight loss. Clients are also provided with a Wi-Fi scale with similar software ability. The weight loss expert can track a client’s progress through the software.

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Mobile Tech + Coaching Can Improve Health

Mobile Tech + Coaching Can Improve Health | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

...a new study shows that a combination of mobile technology and remote coaching holds promise in encouraging healthier eating and physical activity in adults.

 

Experts believe mobile technology to improve cardiovascular health can be a method to improve health outcomes and reduce costs.

 

The ubiquity of mobile technology allows timely sharing of health information to providers and/or health coaches allowing appropriate support and feedback.

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The Perfected Self: Behavioral Technology and the unlikely comeback of B.F. Skinner's Ideas

The Perfected Self: Behavioral Technology and the unlikely comeback of B.F. Skinner's Ideas | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

Behavioral technology allows users to gradually and permanently alter all kinds of behavior, from reducing their energy use to controlling their spending. Now, with the help of our iPhones and a few Facebook friends, we can train ourselves to lead healthier, safer, eco-friendlier, more financially secure, and more productive lives.

 

Ironically, this high-tech behavioral revolution is rooted in the work of a mid-century psychologist once maligned as morally bankrupt, even fascist. But the rise of social media has reoriented our societal paranoias, and more and more people are incorporating his theories into their daily lives. As a result, psychology’s most misunderstood visionary may finally get his due.

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Role of Video Games in Improving Health-Related Outcomes

Role of Video Games in Improving Health-Related Outcomes | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

Certain video games may be useful tools for psychological and physical therapy, according to University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers who reviewed randomized controlled trials that tested the ability of video games to improve or promote health outcomes. 

 

In the 38 studies identified, the researchers examined a total of 190 health outcomes and found that video games improved 69 percent of psychological therapy outcomes, 59 percent of physical therapy outcomes, 50 percent of physical activity outcomes, 46 percent of clinician skills outcomes, 42 percent of health education outcomes, 42 percent of pain distraction outcomes and 37 percent of disease self-management outcomes.

 

A video describing the study is posted at http://www.scivee.tv/node/48059.

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On Campus: Researchers make compassion a game

How do you teach middle-schoolers about compassion? Create a video game about it, of course.

 

That's the thinking, anyway, behind a new study at UW-Madison.

 

With a $1.39 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UW-Madison researchers will develop and test two educational games to help eighth-graders develop empathy, cooperation, mental focus and self-regulation.

 

"By the time they reach the eighth grade, virtually every middle-class child in the Western world is playing smartphone apps, video games, computer games," said Davidson in a UW-Madison news release.

 

The hope is to use the media for "constructive purposes" and eventually to reach wide audiences, he said.

 

The first game will focus on attention; the second will stress social behaviors such as kindness and altruism.

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Video Game Therapy in India

Video Game Therapy in India | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

Game therapy is still a complete new concept in India... However, it is not that gaming therapy hasn't set foot in the country. We came across the Jumpstart Therapy Centre in Mumbai (Prabhadevi and Navi Mumbai) which implements video game therapy to treat children suffering from developmental challenges like Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dyslexia, ADHD, Learning Disorders, and Intellectual Challenges. The Centre guides parents and trains children who have these developmental challenges through modern gaming consoles, like Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2 and specially designed software for the iPad 2.

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Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world | Video on TED.com

Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.

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New device may help asthma sufferers

New device may help asthma sufferers | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it
A new device designed to be used with rescue inhalers hopes to help asthma sufferers.

With Asthmapolis' technology, and the patient's permission, when the button is pushed to get needed relief, the snapshot data is sent to the patient's phone, and the data is uploaded to their personal health record, shared with their physician and collected in a database.

For the 500 patients wanted for the study, their information can begin to create an important picture.

By the end of the study, analysts hope to have a map of Metro Louisville, the problem areas and the reasons for the problems. And from that they hope to get solutions.
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Students with disabilities eliminate barriers with Kinect

Students with disabilities eliminate barriers with Kinect | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

With Kinect the students were no longer limited to a chair plugged to a table, they were dancing with their peers in front of the screen and in this way also practicing their motoric and coordination skills. This dynamic allowed us to shape the game according to the student´s needs, adding extra rules etc. and in this way we could continue to develop the students´ skills.

 

School Principal Leonardo Amaral puts it this way: “First and foremost, Kinect directly supports our mission to provide a meaningful and stimulating education for all of our students; second, it helps teachers reinforce teamwork – while still providing personalised learning experiences; and it is a fantastic tool for measuring the amazing progress that our students are making every day. With Kinect the range of possibilities of which may be taught and learned by our students with disabilities has undoubtedly increased. It opens new horizons in personal relationships, improves cooperation between peers and develops personal mobility. Kinect also enables an easier inclusion of our special needs students in a future social working environment”.

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Scientists invent real "Doctor Who sonic screwdriver"

Scientists invent real "Doctor Who sonic screwdriver" | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

Researchers at Dundee University claim to have invented a real-life Doctor Who-style sonic screwdriver. The new ultrasound technology could help real doctors treat patients more effectively.

 

"This experiment not only confirms a fundamental physics theory but also demonstrates a new level of control over ultrasound beams which can also be applied to non-invasive ultrasound surgery, targeted drug delivery and ultrasonic manipulation of cells," said Dr MacDonald.

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The time is right for socially positive games, says ESA head

The time is right for socially positive games, says ESA head | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it
ESA president Mike Gallagher reinforces the organization's commitment to going beyond games for entertainment, and offering advice for those exploring today's plentitude of opportunities for social change games.
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MIT Researchers Create Star Trek-Style Needleless Injections

MIT Researchers Create Star Trek-Style Needleless Injections | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have pulled a page from Star Trek‘s book and have developed a technique for giving shots without a needle, much like the injections Dr. McCoy delivered on the starship Enterprise.

 

MIT scientists, led by Professor Ian Hunter, have figured out a way to inject medicine using a high-pressure jet to deliver specific amounts of medicine to variable depths beneath the skin, reports the Daily Mail. It’s a step up from existing needleless transdermal devices, such as nicotine patches, which are limited to medicinal doses tiny enough to be delivered via the skin’s pores. This means that the new needleless injections can be used on individuals of all ages and with a variety of doses and medications.

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Glasses Could Help the Blind See like Geordi La Forge in ‘Star Trek’

Glasses Could Help the Blind See like Geordi La Forge in ‘Star Trek’ | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

The goal of the research team, located at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, is to be able to treat 85% percent of clinically blind people, including the ability to restore sight to partially blind people without messing up what vision they already have. According to the Al Jazeera report, testing with blind subjects is planned to start within the next two years.

 

Currently, the research team’s prototype looks a DIY version of Geordi’s visor, but the ultimate plan is to build a pair of ordinary-looking glasses outfitted with two digital cameras: one outside to capture images of the surrounding environment and one inside to track the movement of the eyeballs.

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Mobile App Helps Service Members Adjust to Life After Combat

The Department of Defense recently announced the release of a mobile application that helps service members reacclimate to life at home after returning from combat deployments.

 

Positive Activity Jackpot, developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, uses augmented reality with a smart phone’s GPS to help find nearby activities and diversions for someone accustomed to the high tempo of combat life.

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Can These Video Games Help You Make Better Life Choices?

Can These Video Games Help You Make Better Life Choices? | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

Interactive games that let players step into the shoes of another character to solve real-world problems.

 

Walk in the shoes of a soldier on the battlefield or learn how to avoid foreclosure in a precarious housing market — if you make a mistake, simply start the game over.

 

WILL Interactive has found a way to encourage game players to solve real-world problems using interactive role-playing games.

 

WILL has created more than 70 “serious games.” That term, the site explains, “means games that are designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. Higher end serious games are designed to inherently engage their target audience through the use of interactive gaming attributes, which, in turn, ultimately educates them on how to solve a specific problem, task or objective.”

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A Game to Help Doctors Ask Tough Questions

A Game to Help Doctors Ask Tough Questions | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it
The game, which is in its final phase of testing, is aimed at primary care and family doctors, who often feel uncomfortable and unqualified assessing their patients in this regard.

 

“This isn’t something medical students have traditionally been trained for,” Dr. Fleming said. “These are hard conversations to have.”

 

The game encourages doctors to adopt a more collaborative and less accusatory approach with patients, Dr. Olsen said. “The goal is to build rapport,” he said.

 

The video game was designed based on research by Dr. Michael F. Fleming at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and draws on technology used by the F.B.I. to train agents in interrogation tactics. It teaches doctors to look for warning signs of drug abuse, like a history of family problems, and to observe nonverbal signs of nervousness, like breaking eye contact, fidgeting and finger-tapping.

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Kouply: This mobile game might just save your marriage

Kouply: This mobile game might just save your marriage | Geek Therapy | Scoop.it

This free app for iPhone, Windows Phone and the web turns your relationship into a game — letting you and your significant other award points to each other as positive reinforcement for those seriously sweet gestures.

 

Kouply is a moonlight project from two Seattle-area software engineers and a designer — three guys looking to make at least a tiny dent in the divorce rate by encouraging behavior that has a positive effect on relationships.

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