Sunday, July 17, 2005


Original art by Elaine Supkis

To the everlasting delight of my adult children who grew up in a video game household with multiple players, multiple systems, here is some interesting news today that shouldn't surprise them. From the BBC:
Mark Griffiths, professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University, says they can be a distraction for children undergoing painful treatment.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, he added that games can also help children with attention deficit disorders gain social skills.
Most geeky kids I have known have ADD, meaning often their minds moved fast and they were very swiftly bored and in general, being very much interactive, would go stark bonkers in a classroom where you had to not only sit inert but focus on something that would fuzz in and out of conciousness: the teacher droning like a beehive on a hot summer afternoon....zzzzzz. Or you want to run and scream.

Heh. Don't I remember.

Well, something I vividly remember is childhood pain. My internal organs had been traumatized and I was in and out of hospitals and in tremendous pain periodically. Really nasty pain. I remember trying to alleviate it by trying to make the tiny holes in the medical rooms' sound proof ceilings form patterns. Connecting imaginary dots. Maybe that is why I obsess about this even today (yah!).

Imagine if a doctor walked in and gave me a Gameboy to fiddle with instead of ripping pillows apart and screaming. Like. Wow.

Well, thank goodness today's children who must suffer have something!
Professor Griffiths pointed to studies which had shown children undergoing chemotherapy and treatment for sickle cell anaemia had benefited from being given games to distract then.

He said they needed less pain relief and had less nausea and lower blood pressure than those who were simply told to rest after their treatments.

Professor Griffiths also highlighted specific cases where video games had been used to help treat specific physical conditions, including an eight-year-old boy whose illness caused him to pick his lip, causing scarring.

Previous treatments had failed so the boy was given a hand-held video game to keep his hands occupied.

Two weeks later the affected area had healed. Computer games have even been used as a form of physiotherapy for arm injuries.
My kids probably remember when I got swatted with a poison ivy vine in NJ. I was covered with hideous sores because I am allergic to poison ivy. The itching was a torment. So they hauled in their video games and played them on my bed and I watched and commented. "Yeah! Mario jumped onto the ship and the cannonballs missed this time!" I would try to say.

Truly, the tireless efforts of Mario certainly were distracting.

Now for news that probably won't appear in our cheesy "let's please right wingnut Evangelicals" media. From the BBC:
Praying for patients undergoing heart operations does not improve their outcomes, a US study suggests.
A study found those who were prayed for were as likely to have a setback in hospital, be re-admitted, or die within six months as those not prayed for.

The Duke University Medical Center study of 700 patients, in the Lancet, said music, image and touch therapy did appear to reduce patients' distress.

Heart experts said patients could benefit from feeling more optimistic.

Further evidence is emerging that people with a more positive outlook appear to be less affected by stressful events, such as having surgery
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, British Heart Foundation

Therapies such as prayer and homeopathy are widely used, although past studies looking at the impact of care on patients' health have had mixed results.

The results of this study contradict earlier findings from the same team which suggested a drop of a quarter or more in "adverse outcomes" - including death, heart failure or heart attack.
I remember the silly hooplah over the prayer report earlier. It irritated me greatly because of course, if gods only take notice of prayers and did something then no one would ever die or be sick or anything, no? Unless there are cabals of evil doers praying for the deaths of others!

Sort of like the Skull and Bones kids at Yale. They pray to the Devil that is Death. I suppose, since they run America and are sending our military all over the place to kill people, they are pretty successful, at least their god listens.

So the illogic of all this is patently obvious. The study even had Buddhists praying to keep people alive. I happen to know Buddha and he has this message to everyone: "My dad lied to me and told me no on ever died. One day, I escaped from his palace and saw sick and dying people. This really upset me so I decided to overcome death. One day, while meditating, it came to me. Dying isn't the point. Living right while looking towards Niravana means one overcomes the fear of death and being enlightened, can achieve bliss."

Ok? Got that? The prayers of Buddhists should be for enlightenment and to accept death. Not live forever in the eternally corrupted and corruptible body. That, indeed is hell. There is a Japanese anime called "Hi no Tori" about a series of people seeking to live forever. Each story ended when the character figured out that eternal life is terrible but spiritual oneness was wonderful. One character was caught in a time loop and murdered herself over and over, her younger incarnation driving a sword through her older one which would wait resignedly for execution while chanting the Lotus Sutra.
Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist prayer groups were assigned to pray for 371 of the patients. The rest had no prayer group.

In addition, 374 of the patients were assigned MIT therapy and the rest none.

MIT involved teaching the patients relaxed breathing techniques and playing them easy listening, classical, or country music during their procedure.

The researchers found that neither therapy alone, or combined, showed any measurable treatment effect on serious cardiovascular events, hospital readmission or death.

But those given music, imagery and touch therapy had less emotional distress and had a lower death rate after six months, though this was not seen as statistically significant.
Listening to beautiful music and being held by a loved one when one is a wonderful thing and I highly recommend this to everyone. But the Grim Reaper pays no attention to this. He does what he does.

As the Skull and Bones chant goes: Death is Death.

To return to homepage click here