Technology Collaborative Launches Online Game to Exercise Brain Power of People with Multiple Sclerosis
Gamers Engage Memory, Attention, Processing Skills
NEW YORK, July 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – The MS Technology Collaborative has created a new way for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) to exercise their brain power. The Collaborative, an alliance of Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Microsoft, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, today announced the launch of MyBrainGames, a free suite of online cognitive games for the MS community.
Approximately 50 percent of people living with MS develop cognitive challenges, often in the areas of processing speed, working memory and complex attention. These challenges can involve difficulty in learning and remembering information; focusing, maintaining and shifting attention; and organizing, planning and problem-solving.(i)
MyBrainGames, available for free at MyMSMyWay.com, are the first online games designed specifically for people with MS under the direction of a team of leading healthcare professionals specializing in MS and cognition, as well as members of the MS community. The new resource provides a series of fun and interactive cognitive games for the MS community.
“Many times our patients are doing well physically but they may still struggle with cognitive ability,” said Dr. Stephen Kirzinger, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program at the University of Louisville and one of the healthcare professionals who oversaw development of the game. “This game presents the first step in assessing whether games can help counter the cognitive challenges of MS.”
The games challenge the player’s processing speed, working memory, attention, and task switching ability. Each game is available at varying levels of difficulty and players can even create customized levels to best suit their individual abilities. All scores can be saved, allowing users to track their performance over time.
Because people with MS experience a range of physical limitations in addition to cognitive challenges, MyBrainGames was also developed with technical modifications to ensure that the games are accessible to the MS community. The game’s “Accessibility Toolbar” offers the option for color inversion, changes in contrast, and bold and enlarged game text. To account for individuals with limited dexterity, minimal mouse and keyboard movement is required, with most of the game played using only two keyboard keys.
MyBrainGames is the latest deliverable of the Collaborative’s nearly three-year partnership, which began with their 2007 survey, “Staying Connected: An Investigative Survey of How Technology Affects People Living with MS.” Results from this survey indicated that people living with MS were not only highly reliant upon computers and the internet, but also frequent gamers, with 36% of respondents reporting the use of online games.
In response to the survey results, the Collaborative launched www.MyMSMyWay.com, an online portal that features information and resources on technology, including the Snapshot tool, an interactive quiz that provides customized technology solutions based on each individual’s particular needs and challenges. The site is now also home to the Collaborative’s latest addition, MyBrainGames.
“We have seen through our work over the past few years the tremendous impact that technology can have on a person’s journey with MS,” said Dr. Nicholas LaRocca, Vice President of health care delivery and policy research at the National MS Society. “With the launch of MyBrainGames, we’re pleased to be able to present a unique piece of technology that we hope will have a similar impact.”
The Collaborative is currently working with leading healthcare professionals and game developers to secure a research grant to evaluate the impact of MyBrainGames on cognitive function.
To access MyBrainGames and the multitude of resources offered by the Collaborative, please visit www.MyMSMyWay.com.
About the MS Technology Collaborative
The MS Technology Collaborative is a landmark alliance between the National MS Society, Microsoft and Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, all of whom have come together to help improve how people with MS can use technology to maintain their health and independence, have support for their life choices, and stay connected with their families, friends, and communities. The MS Technology Collaborative helps to raise awareness of how existing technology can support personal and professional goals, as well as to make information about technology readily accessible to the MS community. The online home, MyMSMyWay.com, features user-submitted technology tips, a monthly column written by accessible technology experts, and information about accessible technology products, including those that are affordable and in some cases even free.
About the Participating Organizations
Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. is the U.S.-based pharmaceuticals operation of Bayer HealthCare, an affiliate of Bayer AG. One of the world’s leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry, Bayer HealthCare combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Diabetes Care, and Pharmaceuticals divisions. In the United States, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals comprises the following business units: Women’s Healthcare, Diagnostic Imaging, General Medicine, Hematology/Neurology, and Oncology.
The company’s aim is to discover and manufacture products that will improve human health worldwide by diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
MS stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn’t. The Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move their lives forward. In 2008 alone, through the national office and 50 state network of chapters, that Society devoted over $136 million to programs that enhanced more than one million lives. To move closer to a world free of MS, the Society also invested nearly $50 million to support 440 research projects around the world. To learn more about multiple sclerosis and the service programs the Society offers visit www.nationalMSsociety.org.
Microsoft Accessible Technology Group
For nearly 20 years, Microsoft has focused on developing accessible technology for everyone, including individuals who experience the world in different ways because of difficulties or disabilities. Accessible technology makes the computer more comfortable and easier to see, hear, and use. More information about accessibility and Microsoft can be found at www.microsoft.com/enable/.
(i) “Cognitive Function.” The National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/symptoms/cognitive-function/index.aspx. Accessed on April 24, 2009.
SOURCE MS Technology Collaborative