Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent pediatric neurodevelopmental conditions, affecting between 3% and 7% of school-aged children (Felt et al., 2014). It is commonly treated using some combination of counseling, behavioral changes, and pharmacological agents including stimulants, and various child-friendly intermediate- and long-acting formulations of methylphenidate and dexmethylphenidate are available; however, their use remains controversial (Krizinger et al., 2019).
2020 has seen the promise of a potential new tool: an FDA-approved video game for children, called EndeavorRX and developed by the Boston-based Akili Interactive.
The developers do not claim this will replace any regimens or represent a miracle cure. Rather, the game was designed to be a part of a larger treatment program to manage and mitigate the symptoms of ADHD. The game has shown positive results in multiple studies, specifically helping with inattention symptoms, leading to the approval from the FDA.
Our Head of Editorial Tim McLean sat down with Akili Interactive to discuss EndeavorRx and their passion for resolving unmet needs in the ADHD space.
BCC: What is the setting and gameplay of EndeavorRx?
Akili: Even though Endeavor looks and feels like a traditional video game, it’s very different. EndeavorRx is built on a proprietary technology that presents specific sensory stimuli and simultaneous motor challenges designed to target and activate select neural networks in the brain while using adaptive algorithms to personalize the treatment experience for each individual patient. As a child navigates a customizable character through different fantasy worlds, they are continuously having to react to stimuli and prioritize incoming information. EndeavorRx doesn’t promise to be the most fun video game a child has ever played, but it is very likely the most fun medicine they’ve ever taken. The experience can be difficult, and somewhat repetitive. It needs to be in order to work. It is continuously challenging the area of the brain responsible for cognitive functions including attentional abilities, our ability to multitask, and prioritize incoming information.
BCC: Was the design of the game intentionally targeted at ADHD symptom mitigation?
Akili: EndeavorRx is built on Akili’s Selective Stimulus Management engine (SSME™) core technology, which presents a range of specific stimuli designed to target and activate the fronto-parietal network in the brain, known to play a key role in cognitive function and attention. It has been studied across 12+ diseases and disorders that have associated cognitive impairments and we initially pursued ADHD because of the great unmet need in the area for new treatment options.
For additional intel into the markets for ADHD treatment and gaming, explore the following reports: