Clinically validated tablet technology for developmental delay
Monash University researchers have developed what they says is the world’s first tablet technology designed to assist children with developmental disabilities such as autism.
The gaming technology has been developed in association with DreamWorks contractor Torus Games and technology commercialisation firm Grey Innovation and is being commercialised by a spin-off company called Tali Health.
According to Tali Health, the front end of its technology is an attention measuring and training program for delivering interventions and measurements on everyday electronic devices that families, educators and clinicians can use in both rural and metropolitan regions.
At the back end is a powerful computer program that collects and analyses data each time a patient plays one of the computer games. Tali Health says the analysis of this data is used to prepare reports for clinicians for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes and then to monitor the progress of their patients, and, where necessary, adjust the treatment.
The technology has been tested in a pilot study aimed at determining whether using the games for 20 minutes five days a week over a five-week period leads to improved attention and focus.
Lead researcher Kim Cornish, from the Monash School of Psychological Sciences, said traditional methods such as IQ tests did not accurately capture the range of cognitive and behavioural problems associated with these disabilities.
Professor Cornish also said these testing methods did not isolate which areas needed improvement, or in fact which interventions have made the improvement.
The study conducted a randomised trial of 77 children with developmental disabilities. The intervention group with the tablet technology showed improved core cognitive attention skills that were maintained for up to three months after the training ceased, along with improved numeracy abilities.
According to Professor Cornish, while there are literally hundreds of apps available that claim to improve attention, intelligence and brainpower, none have been assessed clinically, so ascertaining the true effect that these interventions may have on childhood cognition is impossible.
“The majority of autism apps focus on social skills training which, while important, it is the ability to improve cognitive skills alongside behavioural skills that is of utmost importance,” she said.
Posted in Allied Health