This year’s Disrupt NY Hackathon featured an innovative use of virtual reality in helping diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Designed by a team of high school students from New Jersey, the virtual reality experience aims to simplify the process of diagnosing ADHD. Called “ReVive” (not be confused with the similarly titled ReVive software for making Oculus Rift software compatible with HTC Vive hardware), the program has the user complete challenges involving concentration, reaction time, and motor skills. Maze navigation, standing still in a designated virtual space, and other tests are included, all adding to final scores that are presented to an evaluating clinician. It’s not meant to replace the role of a physician in working up a patient for ADHD, but rather allow for quickly obtaining data on a patient with an immersive, believable experience through VR.

This isn’t the first time virtual reality has been utilized for patients with ADHD. Researchers from Taiwan presented a similar VR tool, with tests measuring visual memory, listening, and other tests, at the 2012 IEEE Conference. University of Southern California has produced a virtual classroom for both the assessment and the rehabilitation of cognitive deficits, including ADHD, using older VR technology. Additionally, an ongoing randomized clinical trial in Germany is evaluating the use of a virtual classroom combined with neurofeedback for patient treatment. Its objective is to see if school performance and self-control can improve through use of this intervention.

Of course, ReVive doesn’t appear to currently have any published data on VR tests. It’s unlikely we will see it used in clinical practice anytime soon. However, it demonstrates the continued potential of VR in healthcare, and could be used for an exciting research study should the team partner with a healthcare institution.