Gaming helmet helps children concentrate

Tuesday, December 11th 2007, 5:51 pm
By: News 9

By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9

Playing comes naturally for cousins Caleb Howe and Nicholas MaGee. So when their parents thought the boys needed help catching-up in school, these boys' parents turned to a game.

Not just any game, this special computer game called Play Attention helps re-train the way children's brains think. Play Attention works by outfitting kids with something they are familiar and comfortable with-a bicycle helmet. The helmet has sensors that measure brain waves or neuro-feedback. The more a child concentrates while using the helmet, the better the child does at the game. The concept is simple and effective.

"The game was originally designed for ADHD kids, but when they started doing their testing on the program...they found it was very effective on kids with learning disabilities," said Kathryn Lee, spokesperson for Play Attention. "When the user is playing the game, and focusing, the game will play. When they aren't focusing, the games will stop."

Kathryn Lee is a former special education teacher who now teaches school administrators and parents to use Play Attention.

"I'm better at it and concentrating and drowning out all of the noises in the classroom," said Caleb Howe.

Since using the game, Caleb's grades has gone up from Bs and Cs to As and Bs. He said the better grades came from a sharper focus on his studies.

His father James Howe agrees.

"He remembers better and he pays more attention, and he's only been at this a few weeks," said James.

And while neither Caleb nor Nicholas have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, children with the attention disorders at Dickson Public Schools are using the game with dramatic results.

"What we saw at Dickson schools was kids about a third of the way through the program were starting to decrease their homework from 3 hours to 30 minutes," said Lee.  "Some parents were starting to pull their kids off of medication."

For James Howe, Play Attention's results are also being felt outside the classroom.

"He really has changed," James said. "He's more mindful, in the sense that he minds better."