Canadian innovators use video games to help children with neuro-development disabilities

Dino Island improves attention and executive function in children with neuro-developmental disabilities.

Dino Island Intervention Program Therapeutic Video Game. University of Victoria

Yvonne Chiang, HealthTech Connex Inc. March 8, 2021

Calgary AB & Surrey BC – An innovative team of Canadian partners have come together bridging academic university, private industry, and community health leadership for child brain health, bringing a novel therapeutic video game to children and families. Led by Dr. Sarah Macoun from the University of Victoria, the partnership showcases innovative capabilities within a large multi-site clinical research study, to explore how the Dino Island therapeutic video game can improve attention, working memory, and executive function in children with neuro-development disabilities.

The partners include the University of Victoria, The Uncomplicated Family (TUF, Calgary), HealthTech Connex’s Centre for Neurological Studies and the NeuroCatch Platform (Surrey), the Child Development Foundation of BC (Surrey), and Woodview Autism and Mental Health Services (Ontario). This partnership initiative emerged from Surrey’s Health and Technology District and is a product of decades of leading-edge research started by Dr. Catherine Mateer and Dr. Kimberly Kerns from the University of Victoria. It represents a major milestone in translating leading research into health technology benefits for Canadians and children around the globe.

Through a combination of research, clinical studies, innovation, and clinical expertise, the multi-year partnership enables collaborators to offer a video-game based treatment program for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Their goal is to help children with special needs reach their potential through the development and use of novel, evidence-based innovations, to improve neuro-behavioural outcomes in children with neuro-developmental challenges.

The therapeutic video game is called Dino Island (pictured above), a cognitive intervention program rooted in neuroscience and is used to help treat neuro-developmental disabilities using innovation translated from the Kids Brain Health Network. As a “serious game,” Dino Island takes advantage of the popularity of video games, particularly in growing pandemic times, to support healthy brain development in children. The Dino Island Intervention Program consists of five serious video games, each designed to deliver therapeutic benefits while it looks and feels like a video game.

Dino Island Intervention Program Therapeutic Video Game. University of Victoria

“Dino Island demonstrates what is possible when Canadian researchers, health professionals, technological innovators, and our funding partners work together to meet a vital need,” shares Dr. Sarah Macoun, Principal Investigator for the Dino Island Intervention Program at the University of Victoria.

Between seven and 14 per cent of children live with developmental disorders and cognitive challenges. We’ve created a treatment program that kids are willing to give the time required to make it effective, doesn’t require a clinical expert to deliver it, and can be used anywhere that an online video game can be used.

Researchers at University of Victoria developed Dino Island as a cognitive intervention program for attention and executive functioning impairments, specifically designed for children with neuro-developmental disorders, which combines the appeal of tablet-based gaming with the effectiveness of an in-person, interventionist-child structure. Dino Island was developed with the specific goals of being effective, affordable, and accessible.

“With Dino Island, our partners and TUF are working to transform the entertainment power of video games into a health intervention that children enjoy, parents can feel good about, and our researchers and clinicians can use to offer affordable, accessible treatment options at home, at school, or in the community,” explains Robyn Woods, CEO & Founder at TUF.

Dr. Brian Katz, a Registered Psychologist and the Vice President of Child and Youth Services at The Centre for Child Development noted, “Our goal, through this unique partnership, is to help improve outcomes in children with neurodevelopmental challenges by pairing research and innovation. Through groundbreaking programs like Dino Island, The Centre is able to bring cutting edge innovations to our clients which helps us achieve our mission of helping children with special needs reach their potential.”

Clinicians, family supports, educational assistants, and all caregivers of children living with developmental disorders and cognitive challenges are invited to explore the Dino Island Intervention Program.

The University of Victoria is currently welcoming registrations for children that will benefit from treatment to improve their attention and executive function, and will be supported by a caregiver who is able to complete the online training and offer support with the games.

Source HealthTech Connex Inc. via EurekAlert! AAAS


Dino Island Trailer. The cinematic trailer for the Dino Island program, a cognitive intervention for attention and executive function created by Dr. Sarah Macoun, Dr. Kim Kerns, and colleagues at the University of Victoria. Dino Island. Youtube Jul 17, 2019
About The Uncomplicated Family
We are The Uncomplicated Family, a progressive and passionate health company. We embrace commitment, innovation and compassion to enhance the quality of life for individuals, families and communities who are affected by disabilities. The Uncomplicated Family Corporate Group includes Kids Uncomplicated Inc. The Uncomplicated Family builds revolutionary collaboration software tools, therapy support apps.
About HealthTech Connex Inc.
Located in the Health and Technology District in Surrey, BC, HealthTech Connex Inc. is a brain technology company focusing on cutting-edge innovations and services for rapid impact on health improvements and outcomes in neurological performance. With brain vitality as a premier focus, HealthTech Connex provides translational neuroscience innovations to care and community sectors worldwide; bridging the gap between what’s capable in the laboratory and what’s available in the real-world.
The company runs the Centre for Neurology Studies to support innovative clinical trials and develops the “best-in-class” medical device, the NeuroCatch® Platform. NeuroCatch is an objective, rapid neuro-physiological brain function assessment system that is licensed by Health Canada as a Class II medical device. It is easy to use, cost-effective and readily accessible to healthcare practitioners, researchers and performance specialists in Canada, the US and beyond.
The Child Development Foundation of BC
The Child Development Foundation of BC is a charitable organization whose mission is to support The Centre For Child Development. Since 1953, The Centre for Child Development has been helping children with special needs reach their potential. We started as a grass-roots group of parents co-operatively organizing transportation to therapy sessions in Vancouver. Through the decades, we’ve grown to a team of over 160 staff with expertise in providing a wide range of collaborative therapeutic services to more than 3,000 children each year.
We focus on providing service with integrity, caring and compassion. We consistently challenge ourselves to improve upon best practices and lead our field. Our professionals include: paediatric psychologists, family service and key workers, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, physiotherapists, early childhood educators, supported child development specialists, recreation specialists, dietician, doctor, victims services workers, social workers and police.
Media contacts
Jessica Currie, The Uncomplicated Family.
Yvonne Chiang, HealthTech Connex Inc.
Judy Mann, The Child Development Foundation of BC.

Also see
Researcher in Focus: Spotlight on Dr. Sarah Macoun Kids Brain Health Network
Fun for kids: Dino Island improves memory and brain function Education News Canada ENC
Game changer: Video game could help improve brain function for children with disabilities Times Colopnist
We are leaders, and we are ready: Canada’s next wave of healthcare innovation Teleroo World
The Uncomplicated Family Completes International ITEA3 EUREKA Cluster Project Newswire

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