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Get Patients Back in the Game

The Therapeutic Gaming program at Craig Hospital is a joint effort of Craig’s donor-funded Assistive Technology, Therapeutic Recreation and Rehabilitation Engineering departments. The project’s goal is to use this popular mode of recreation and leisure to address social, physical and occupational therapy rehabilitation goals.

Patients are referred to the program through their occupational, speech, or recreational therapist. They meet in one-on-one sessions with Assistive Technology therapists to explore their options. Once a week, therapists host a gaming night in a hospital Bistro, where any patient is able to drop by, check out the equipment, play games and enjoy refreshments.

The primary goal of the program is to get the patient access to the game. Once access has been accomplished, therapists will modify the experience to make it more challenging, to help the patient work on his or her therapy goals of increasing balance, dexterity, strength or endurance. Increasing upper extremity ability though gaming can help with eating, dressing, bathing, and other functional activities. In this sense, the game motivates patients to make progress towards independence.

The gaming project has the potential to nurture relationships established between Craig patients and allow them to stay in contact by gaming online after discharge and serve as motivation to return to a full and active life.

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Meet Cody, Adaptive Gaming Program Participant

From Skyrim to Call of Duty, Cody loves playing video games—and tinkering with controls to adapt gaming systems. Gaming even inspired him to pursue a certificate in computer technology.

But when Cody sustained a spinal cord injury in a rollover motor vehicle accident in Wyoming, he wasn’t sure that he would ever be able to return to his favorite hobby and his planned career in computer technology.

Only a few weeks into the rehabilitation process at Craig Hospital, Cody attended the weekly adaptive gaming night on his floor.

Multiple controllers were available for him to test what was most comfortable for him following his injury and which one he’d be able to play with most successfully.

Cody believes that this program is important for his time at Craig. Not only is he relearning to follow his passions and vocational path, he is motivated to complete his therapies. Cody is encouraged by his recent ability to have some movement in his fingers and is looking forward to working more with his occupational therapist, and adaptive gaming, to test his dexterity and motor skills.

It’s beyond entertainment. In a video game, you can be a race car driver or a hunter, expanding your experience and strengthening you emotionally. Once you’ve done it virtually, you might be motivated to try that experience in real life—something Craig can help you to achieve.

Patrick Wagner, Craig Rehabilitation Engineer