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Health: Improving Cystic Fibrosis Through Video Games

Video games often carry a negative stigma. However, a recently published study from the University of Vermont demonstrates the positive potential they have. Four researchers, Peter Bigham, Jason Bates, John Thompson-Figueroa, and Thomas Lahiri developed an electronic breath game that is safe and helps patients with cystic fibrosis develop breath awareness.1

Patients play the game by breathing in and out of a digital spirometer to control the path of a green circle inside of a sine wave. Inhaling controls the circle’s downward movement, while exhaling causes the circle to move up. The researchers originally tested the game on 10 patients (ages 7 to 17) hospitalized with cystic fibrosis during 15-minute sessions.

Researchers say the major benefit from this study is that the game motivated players to improve breathing pattern performance.

This healthy technological innovation is a wonderful demonstration of the positive potential video games offer under the right circumstances and with the right motivation.


1Bates, J.H., Bingham, P.M., Lahiri, T., Thompson-Figueroa, J (April 2010). A Breath Biofeedback Computer Game for Children with Cystic fibrosis. Clinical Pediatrics, 49 (4), 337-342.