Improving Brain Skills Through Driving Simulators
- Some childhood cancer survivors develop learning problems (called cognitive impairments) after treatment. These problems affect brain skills such as paying attention, how fast the brain works, memory, hand-eye coordination and being able to stop and think.
- Because these treatments occur while children are still growing, some problems/side effects may not show up until months or years after treatment, and these are called “late effects.”
- Video games that require action, doing multiple things at once, and paying attention to improve brain skills (reading, attention, memory, working speed).
- Why are you doing the study? To find out if an in-clinic diving simulator program can improve brain skills in children treated for childhood cancer and siblings.
- What will my child do in the study? The driving simulator is a real-world setting that has motion and is like really driving a car. In the study, the child will learn driving skills and use these skills in a racing game to help improve their brain skills. The sessions should be fun, but challenging so that they have a chance to make fast changes to thee skills.
- Partners/co-investigators include people from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine, John’s Hopkins’s All Children’s Hospital, and the UT College of Medicine, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Department.
WHO CAN BE PART OF THE STUDY?
- Children ages 10 to 17 (and must be 4 ft. 6 in. or taller) treated for cancer who are at least 3 months off treatment and have a doctor’s clearance to participate in this study.
- Sibling of any child (in treatment or not) diagnosed with cancer.
WHAT WILL WE HAVE TO DO?
- Participants will complete twenty, 1-hour sessions of the driving game. One or two sessions can be done in a week.
- Each session is broken up into three 15-minute periods which will be up to 45 minutes of drive time. Breaks will be given to the child as is needed.
- We will learn about how the child’s body is working during each session (pulse, blood pressure, and temperature). At the beginning of each session, a watch-like band will be placed on the forearm to monitor pulse. A blood pressure cuff will be placed on the child’s arm three times during the session to measure blood pressure. The child’s temperature will be taken on the forehead.
- At each session, the child will answer questions about how they are feeling during the driving game to make sure it does not make them feel sick. If they do, we will make changes to help them feel better. Parents will be asked to complete a short form about side effects each week as well.
- Three times during the study, the child will complete a computer test of their brain skills. This will take about 20 minutes. At these three time points, parents will also complete a form about their child’s brain skills.
- At the end of the study, parents and children will answer questions about how they like the study.
- Parents who are interested will meet with Dr. April Nesin, Foundation Psychologist, and the Principal Investigator of the study. Dr. Nesin will answer all questions, make sure that the child fits all requirements, and obtain parental consent.
For more questions or to schedule an appointment to sign up for the study, contact:
Trent Whicker, 423-243-3475