Gaming to Heal

I strained my Achilles very badly last year requiring months in an aircast and the more months of Physical Therapy. As anyone who has gone through PT can attest, the exercises can be tiring and painful, but even worse, they can be boring. To change it up, my Therapist pulled out a Nintendo Wii with the Wii Fit board. It was amazing. Using the Wii Fit allowed me to keep track of my exercises and show my recovery. But more importantly, using it was more engaging than most of my other exercises and kept me on track much longer. There are games now being made specifically for Physical Therapy and the treatment of injuries.

Based on my own experience, I found the concept of using games to heal fascinating. I read a little bit about it from the initimable Jane McGonigal’s book Reality is Broken. In her book, she discusses a game she created “SuperBetter” to help herself recover from a brain injury. Her website lists the rules of the game for free, and it is definitely worth a glance even if you never have an injury that requires the help.

SuperBetter is a fantastic concept and an amazing game, but it is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Recognizing the power that games can have, developers are now making games not just for Physical Therapy, but also treating illness and even PTSD. As someone who has been injured, sick, and suffered from PTSD, the idea of using a game to help me stay on track with my recovery is exciting. And the idea of using a game to take ownership of my injury and be proactive in my healing is empowering.

Speaking of being proactive, there are also games being created and used for personal training and fitness as well. You can play these games and others like them to help prevent injuries and illness while having fun and keeping track of your progress. Many of these games even have social aspects which allow you to keep track of your friend’s progress and compare it to your own; providing further motivation.

As we have been saying on this site for years, there are benefits to gaming that go far beyond just relaxing at the end of a hard day. We can use games to heal, to grow, and to learn.

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