Instead of rotting your brain, some video games can actually help it heal.

That’s the whole point of Blue Marble Game Co.

In one of the Altadena software developer’s games, meant for patients suffering from traumatic brain injury, dementia and other disorders, players are cast as gem-collecting astronauts fending off alien eels with lasers.

“The brain is dividing its attention between the gems and eels, which come on faster and faster,” said Chief Executive Sheryl Flynn, who has a physical therapy degree and a Ph.D. in neuroscience. “We can measure a person’s ability to divide attention, but it doesn’t feel like a standard cognitive assessment.”

The company also makes games that help seniors avoid falls, which might be good for the rising number who are choosing to “age in place” at home.

The applications track users’ movements using Microsoft’s Kinect sensor. Players can let therapists and caregivers access their game data, which can be integrated directly into electronic health care records.

Blue Marble licenses enterprise versions of the software to medical providers and sells a less robust form in app stores.

The company generates much of its revenue from government contracts and grants, including a recent $1 million contract from the Department of Defense to study the games’ effectiveness on military personnel with traumatic brain injuries.

“It’s an exciting opportunity and different approach in addressing these patients’ needs,” Flynn said.

– Marni Usheroff

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