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Respawn: Choosing the Right Game for the Right Patient

Gaming 4

In the previous post, I outlined the goals I had for our Respawn initiative with Operation Supply Drop. Over the next several of weeks, I will be breaking down the specific goals that I’ve set and share with you my plans for each. That brings us to my first goal identified last week:

“I am going to create an extensive database of games that will show all the therapeutic benefits that each game can bring to the table. Rehab practice areas considered for the database will include:

  1. Physical Disabilities
  2. Brain Injury and cognitive dysfunction
  3. Mental Health issues including PTSD, Social Anxiety, Depression, etc.
  4. Health and Wellness
  5. Productive Aging”

I’ve had a lot of people specifically ask me about how we’re going to develop this database and what will go into it. The biggest challenge is figuring out a way to keep it simple but also complex and thorough. Occupational Therapy is designed to view people individually and understand their specific needs.  As I’m working through this process, I want to make sure that I keep those things in mind and cover my bases when it comes to the needs of each person.  Here’s my thought process with it all:

  1. Game evaluations:
    • Need to do a large pool of games broken down into sub-categories including:
      • Genre
      • Platform
    • Individual or multi-player
    • Games will need to be directly linked to therapeutic practice areas and eventually broken down into sub-categories for each one respectively. Practice areas include:
      • Physical Disabilities (other than brain injury)
      • Brain injury and cognitive deficits
      • Mental Health Disorders
      • Health and Wellness
      • Productive Again
    • Database will be designed to be queried online by individual users
    • Therapeutic Games page will include a “Request Game Evaluation” area where users can reach out and interact with the Respawn Team
    • Games will be evaluated not only on current generation systems, but eventually also Retro Gaming systems such as the original Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and Atari
  • Peripherals – Need to establish a good database for system add-ons to show therapeutic potential
    • Driving wheels/pedals
    • Different types of controllers
    • Hardware Enhancements (products like KontrolFreek or custom controller triggers)
    • Interactive toys (ie. Amiibo, Disney Infinity, Skylanders)
    • Balance boards
    • Skate boards
    • Etc.
  • Adaptive gaming – Need to establish a good way to enable anybody with a disability to be able to play games
    • Collaboration with game developers
    • Adaptive controllers
    • Feature successful adaptive gaming stories

So that’s where we start! The challenge will be getting all of this in a logical and easy to access area so we can best benefit the end user, caregivers and the medical community.

Thanks for reading. Next week, I’ll break down my next initiative:

  • Develop lasting relationships with Therapists and Leadership at Medical Treatment Facilities, Warrior Transition Units, and complementary Veteran Service Organization and provide them with relevant video game programs that they can use effectively in their respective organizations.

Erik Johnson, OTR/L, Chief Medical Officer

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