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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Relaxed about teenage stress

6th April 2006

10042006_teenager1.jpgA new approach for helping teenagers with acute anxiety has been developed by a team of researchers at the Child and Family Psychiatry Unit at Dublin's Mater Hospital led by Dr John Sharry and including computer researchers working at MIT Media Labs Europe based in Dublin.

The approach is based on computer games. The games have developed by the Mindgames group led by Dr Sharry aim to reduce players' stress levels and to help teenagers to gain control over their anxieties.

'Affective feedback' is the term coined for their approach. It goes beyond conventional biofeedback methods. Players wear a 'futuristic' biofeedback helmet - the Cerebus System. A special watch monitors muscle relaxation. It provides bio-feedback directly into the game, such that each player has a knowledge of subthreshold anxiety events, and the mediation of a therapist is no longer necessary.

These biofeedback inputs determine who wins the game. The more relaxed the player, and the better at controlling their anxiety in the face of potentially anxious events, the closer the player comes to winning.

Treatment comprises five sessions with the child and parents. The therapist teaches the teenagers how to apply the ideas to outside situations where they feel most anxious.

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