EndeavorRx & ADHD

-By Sania Patel

Games for the Mind

ADHD directly translates to Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and it is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. According to the American Psychiatric Association, an estimated 8.4 2.5 percent have ADHD. The CDC estimates that the number of children ever diagnosed with ADHD is 6.1 million. This number includes 388,000 children ages two to five years, 2.4 million children aged six to eleven years, and 3.3 million children aged twelve to seventeen years.

ADHD often causes various symptoms and disorders to prevail. The CDC writes that many children are also affected by depression, Tourette syndrome, and an autism spectrum disorder. About five in ten children with ADHD have a behavior or conduct problem, while another three in ten children have anxiety. Other common symptoms occur in impulsive, hyperactive, and inattentive behavior.

Although many children are diagnosed with ADHD and suffer from the many symptoms and disorders that occur, scientists have been unable to identify the specific causes of ADHD. The American Psychiatric Association writes, “There is evidence that genetics contribute to ADHD. For example, three out of four children with ADHD have a relative with the disorder. Other factors that may contribute to the development of ADHD include being born prematurely, brain injury, and the mother smoking, using alcohol, or having extreme stress during pregnancy.”

The current, and most common treatment, of ADHD is in the form of medication. The medication comes in the form of either stimulants or non-stimulants. An example of stimulant medication is amphetamines. These include amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, and lisdexamfetamine; it acts as either an immediate-release drug or an extended-release drug. An example of a non-stimulant medication is Clonidine ER (Kapvay), which is used to reduce hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and distractibility in people with ADHD. There are many other types of medicine that can be used, however, many of these drugs come with side effects. The most common side effects are loss of appetite and trouble sleeping, as well as, jitteriness, irritability, moodiness, headaches, stomachaches, fast heart rate, and high blood pressure.

EndeavorRx seeks to change the current treatment of ADHD, as it has become the first FDA-approved prescription video game. Designed for kids ages eight to twelves with ADHD, EndeavorRx challenges its patients to focus on multiple tasks simultaneously within the game environment. EndeavorRx is one of the many digital therapeutics on the rise. EndeavorRx uses technology to engage its patients and improve their attention skills through gameplay. The game grows more challenging as the child’s attention improves. In the game, a child guides a character along a course, while they avoid obstacles along the way. The game promotes both visual and auditory stimulation, which acts as a source of distraction while playing. Endeavor RX requires the child to focus on several things at the same time and develops to challenge their weaknesses while supporting their strengths.

The app is aimed to help children with ADHD, by providing a distracting setting that builds on their multitasking abilities. The recommended playing time is about twenty-five minutes per day, five days a week, for four weeks, however, this timeline can be extended or shortened, depending on the individual’s needs. Used with traditional ADHD medicine, the overall goal of EndeavorRx is to provide a fun and relaxing environment that eliminates the common symptoms of ADHD.

EndeavorRx has participated in five clinical studies on over six hundred children. A clinical trial published in 2020 compared EndeavorRx to other focus-based video games. After a four-week period, it was reported that EndeavorRx had improved attention more than traditional video games. A follow-up study was published in 2021 to determine whether EndeavorRx was effective when used over longer periods of time. After a twelve-week period, the study was able to confirm that EndeavorRx is effective over time and that it can be used with or without medication, and still give positive results.

In a randomized, controlled clinical trial conducted by the developers of EndeavorRx, they reported the game to improve objective attention in children with ADHD. According to the study, “Up to a third of kids had a clinically meaningful change in ADHD symptoms after one month of treatment, a number that rose to 45% after a second month. Additionally, 48% of parents indicated that EndeavorRx improved their child’s ADHD-related day-to-day impairment, and 56% said it helped improve their attention.”

Overall, ADHD is a common diagnosis among kids, and it contributes to many unwanted symptoms and disorders such as insomnia, hyperactivity, and Tourette syndrome. For children, ages eight to twelve, a new option uses technology to aid ADHD, in conjunction with traditional medications. EndeavorRx is a game that challenges patients to work on several tasks simultaneously while functioning under distracting environments. The game uses fun characters and unique tasks to keep the player engaged while addressing the common symptoms of ADHD. A combination of sensory stimuli and simultaneous motor challenges are used to activate areas of the brain that play a key role in attention function; the game is programmed to adapt to meet the needs of each patient. Many studies have proven that EndeavorRx works to improve the symptoms of ADHD, with or without the assistance of traditional medications. It is also reported to be increasingly effective given the increased duration of playtime.

The development of EndeavorRx is just one of the many new digital treatment options for various mental health conditions. As seen with EndeavorRx, AI can greatly benefit people with various types of mental health issues; they can offer a modern solution, rather than medications. AI creeping into mental health services allows more people to involve themselves with treatment, and for medications to become less common. These AI services provide minimal side effects and generally cost less than medicine and therapy. AI also allows mental health services to be offered with more convenience, as these programs can adapt to an individual’s changes, development, and commitments.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health disorders have increased to affect one-fifths of people in the United States alone. With this rise in mental health disorders, as well as the limited health care services, AI will act as the newest solution. Over the last few years, AI has expanded to revolutionize healthcare. Currently, AI can be used to analyze patient data and assess the probability of developing mental health conditions, classify disorders, and suggest optimum treatment plans. It can also Conduct self-assessment and therapy sessions, and make psychological interventions by automatically giving appropriate information to the patient. By looking at the current developments in AI, it is inevitable that they will revamp all types of health care services.