Clinical and Neurobiological Perspectives of Empowering Pediatric Cancer Patients Using Videogames

Meveshni Govender, Randy C. Bowen, Massiell L. German, Grzegorz Bulaj, Carol S. Bruggers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Pediatric oncology patients often experience fatigue and physical and mental deconditioning during and following chemotherapy treatments, contributing to diminished quality of life. Patient empowerment is a core principle of patient-centered care and reflects one's ability to positively affect his or her own health behavior and health status. Empowerment interventions may enhance patients' internal locus of control, resilience, coping skills, and self-management of symptoms related to disease and therapy. Clinical and technological advancements in therapeutic videogames and mobile medical applications (mobile health) can facilitate delivery of the empowerment interventions for medical purposes. This review summarizes clinical strategies for empowering pediatric cancer patients, as well as their relationship with developing a "fighting spirit" in physical and mental health. To better understand physiological aspects of empowerment and to elucidate videogame-based intervention strategies, brain neuronal circuits and neurotransmitters during stress, fear, and resilience are also discussed. Neuroimaging studies point to the role of the reward system pathways in resilience and empowerment in patients. Taken together, videogames and mobile health applications open translational research opportunities to develop and deliver empowerment interventions to pediatric cancer patients and also to those with other chronic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-374
Number of pages13
JournalGames for Health Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Rehabilitation
  • Computer Science Applications


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