Background:Despite being at the peak of physical health, Olympic athletes are affected by emotional stress which negatively impacts on their athletic performance and overall physical
health. The culture of sport often results in athletes not seeking treatment or appropriate intervention to control symptoms of stress and depressed mood. Studies conducted at USC have demonstrated
the therapeutic value of viewing video games specifically developed for stress reduction. This type of clinical intervention has no adverse side -effect profile, and is not associated with the stigma
experienced by athletes seeking mental health interventions. Advanced neuroimaging data has demonstrated the efficacy of these interventions in athletes of all ages and skill levels. The extant data
have demonstrated improvement in sleep, athletic performance, and overall quality of life in athletes who engage in playing these games. Many of these games are not yet commercially available, but
will be in the near future. The role of specific games for specific disorders, such as ADHD, is emerging in ongoing clinical trials. This brief oral presentation will present the existing data, and
games in development, to assist athletes in controlling emotional stress, especially before high-level competitions.
Methods:Ongoing work from the Creative Media lab for Behavioral Health, in the School of Cinematic Arts at the Univ. of Southern California in collaboration with the Global Center for
Exercise, Psychiatry and Sport of USC, has produced a series of stress-reducing games. Other games have been developed to assist with the core symptoms of ADHD. Published data has demonstrated the
higher than expected level of ADHD symptoms in many athletes, including Olympic caliber competitors.The ability for the athlete to maintain full control of this type of intervention, even before major
competitions, has added to its overall effectiveness as a stress-reducing strategy.VAS self-reepoprts have documented a clinically significant decrease in perceived stress, which has been maintained
after cessation of the intervention.
Results:A clinically significant lowering of acute stress levels after engaging in this user-friendly strategy, without fear of drug testing issues and stigma associated with mental
health treatment, has been demonstrated.
Conclusions: Making available specific stress-reducing video games for athletes can improve athletic performance and overall physical health, while eliminating the stigma associated
with seeking professional mental health interventions.