Train2Game News: SpecialEffect goes International and also changes the life of a gamer closer to home

Dr Mick in VeniceDr Mick Donegon, CEO of games charity SpecialEffect, has taken the charity global and started helping people on an international scale.

The video game charities founder has been visiting San Camillo Hospital, Venice, to train staff and collaborate on assessments with their patients who have a range of complex neurological conditions. He got the pleasure of working with Albert Einstein World Award of Science Winner Niels Bierbaumer who is a Professor of Medical Psychology and Behavioural Neurobiology.

This was a great chance for Dr Mick and Professor Bierbaummer to learn from each other and in addition Dr Mick got to spread the word of SpecialEffect to Italy.

SpecialEffect at home

Thanks to all the work that Dr Mick and his team do they are able to help people like Ray who has spinal muscular atrophy which makes it very difficult for him to move.

Ray was introduced to the SpecialEffect team when they were visiting a young man named Jacob who they helped to play FIFA again.

When the team returned to help Ray his face lit up and he said: “All my Christmases have come at once!”

Call of Duty and FIFA 13 are top of the playing wish list for many people at the moment, and Ray was desperate to play them as well. So after an intense session working with his abilities and trying a handful of different access strategies, the SpecialEffect team settled on a set-up that included two switches on his PlayStation joypad, two in his palms and two head-switches on his wheelchair headrest.

It was a hit. Ray’s occupational therapist asked: “On a scale of one to ten, how happy are you?” Ray replied with a hugely ecstatic “Eleven!!”

For Ray this means much more than simply having fun. His disability means that he’s incredibly limited in doing any sort of activity, let alone one that gives such a sense of achievement. The benefits aren’t just personal – while he was playing, an off-duty member of staff jumped at the opportunity to pit his gaming skills against Ray. I’m sure he’s just the first of many new friends, offline and online, that the gift of gaming will give to Ray.