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I’m playing FIFA for the first time since 2014!

Because we’re currently unable to carry out assessments face-to-face due to COVID-19, we’re using video-calls as an alternative. Our team ‘guide’ the hands of whoever is supporting the would-be gamer (e.g. a carer) to position and re-position the control equipment we’ve sent in advance until the person we’re assessing is playing as successfully as possible. Drew, whose spinal injury means that he has no hand or wrist movement, is one of many recent successes:

“I didn’t realise that gaming was an option without the use of my hands,” he said, “I chalked it down as yet another thing I used to enjoy but was no longer able to do.”

Ahead of Drew’s video-call assessment, occupational therapist, Frankie, communicated with him online to build up as clear a picture as possible of his abilities and the games he wanted to play. We were then able to send him a customised package of special control devices for trial during the assessment itself, carefully chosen from the huge variety in our loan library.

“I was a bit intimidated when all the equipment arrived because it looked really complicated. But, by the end of the assessment, I was playing FIFA again – for the first time since 2014!”

His setup includes a special joystick positioned on his right armrest, with three switches below his left arm. He also uses two head switches and the buttons on an Xbox Adaptive Controller.

“The thing that attracts me most to gaming is the opportunity for escapism. I like the idea of being able to forget about reality for a while and explore some far-off planet, become a superhero, or score the winning goal in the World Cup final. The possibilities are endless.”

We are keeping in close contact with Drew while he’s trialling the equipment to ensure continued success, but it doesn’t stop there. As effective as online assessments can be, we’ll be following them up with face-to-face visits for ‘fine-tuning’ his set-up as soon as the current restrictions are over. In the meantime, SpecialEffect’s virtual doors will remain open for business to those who need us. As Drew puts it:

“Now that I’m going to have to self-isolate for 12 weeks, gaming is more important than ever as it’s going to help me stay sane. Not only because of the opportunity for escapism but also because I can play online with friends.”