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A drug-free approach to adult ADHD, video game EndeavorOTC boosts focus and organization

A few years ago, researchers at Oxford University analyzed people playing Plants vs. Zombies and Animal Crossing and found a (small) positive relation between video game play and well-being. Taking those benefits a step further is Akili, which recently unveiled its latest product: EndeavorOTC, a video game designed to sharpen focus in adults with ADHD.

Accessible without prescription to adults aged 18 and over, EndeavorOTC uses gaming and neuroscience to provide a non-pharmacological solution to ADHD symptoms. Recent clinical trial data showed impressive results: 83% of participants reported better focus, and 73% saw an uptick in their quality of life, including better multitasking and increased organization.

The game follows in the footsteps of Boston-based Akili's EndeavorRx, the world's first FDA-authorized video game treatment prescribed for children with ADHD.

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There's been a steep climb in adults seeking ADHD diagnoses. While medication is usually the first choice of treatment, with responsiveness rates in the 70%–80% range, various factors might make Ritalin or Adderall a no-go for patients: high blood pressure, a history of substance abuse, breastfeeding or simply a reluctance to rely on pharmaceuticals. Add to the mix drug shortages and delays in getting a diagnosis in the first place — due in part to an ongoing lack of clinicians — and the need for drug-free alternatives becomes clear.

But EndeavorOTC isn't solely an alternative to pills. Since users don't need a prescription, the game also empowers people to take charge of their mental health, whether they have ADHD, are waiting for a diagnosis or are simply struggling with focus and concentration. While there's a risk of patients — especially those with fewer resources — getting fobbed off with apps and games instead of personal treatment by a medical professional, digital therapeutics have the potential to make healthcare more flexible and accessible.

Innovation of the day