When a soldier is injured in action or suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), their life may never be the same again. On top of the physical or mental pain, it can be a very lonely path to recovery. Ex-servicemen and women all too often slip away from society and the work they did for their country fades from memory.
There are happy endings to some of these stories, though. Some injuries will never fully heal but a growing number of veterans are finding new ways to make a life for themselves after injury – and video games have emerged as the latest trend in helping soldiers recover.
Video games helping soldiers recover from injuries
Back in April, gaming news portal Polygon published a story about soldiers using video games to help them recover from injuries. The article opens by introducing Erik Johnson, a young private in the US Army, who suffered severe burns to his body, arms and hands in a car accident.
Multiple surgeries and many months in hospital left this young, active man in a state of misery and a great deal of pain. The recovery process was tough, but a turning point came when doctors challenged Erik to recover the strength in his right hand. The young soldier found video games gave him both the physical and mental exercise he needed.
“Being able to bring my thumb across and hit the stick and buttons helped me,” he recalls. “It gave me a goal. It made me think: I need to get further around the controller. I need to be able to tap the grenade throw or kick with this button,” he told Polygon.
He also found another game, Final Fantasy, helped him deal with spending so much time in hospital:
“The game didn’t do me any specific good as far as physical therapy, but mentally it created a bond between myself and [another injured soldier] when we were both going through a really hard time,” he said.
Gaming catches on for ex-soldiers
Erik isn’t the only ex-soldier feeling the benefits of video games after suffering an injury or PTSD. A number of charities have started localising games and hardware for people with physical and mental disabilities, but the concept of gaming for ex-soldiers is only now starting to catch on.
Operation Supply Drop is a US organisation leading the way in bringing games to former servicemen and women.
“Making fun where there is none” is the organisation’s motto and it aims to give ex-soldiers a channel they can rely on after fighting for their country.
A positive direction for video gaming
The gaming industry is sometimes criticised for various reasons so it’s always nice to see a truly positive impact made by video games. The potential for gaming and ex-soldiers is massive, too. It’s not just the recovery process that games can help with – they also build much-needed friendships between soldiers who need them most.
Surely the worst thing for an injured veteran must be going through the ordeal alone; having games as a means to connect with people in a similar situation makes them much more than a tool for escapism.
We’ve already seen a number of organisations in the UK recognising the benefits of video gaming for people with physical and mental disabilities, so hopefully we’ll soon see a similar thing happening for ex-servicemen and women who have been injured while serving their country.
- Posted by Alexandra Kravariti
- On 2nd June 2016
- 0 Comments