Episode 061 — Video Games and OT

Who Is this person? What do I need to do to get them back to again their own independent and individual life? -- @OTUnleashed #stroke #OT Click To Tweet


A few weeks ago, I stopped by a Microsoft store to talk with the folks about the Xbox Adaptive Controller. It’s an accessory that makes it possible for folks with disabilities to play the same video games as everyone else. Most people first encountered it during the Superbowl ad Microsoft ran.

I shared some thoughts about it in a Facebook live video, and Occupational Therapist and US Army Veteran Erik Johnson reached out to me about some of the work he’s been doing with this device.


In this episode, Erik Johnson joins us to talk about the adaptive controller, the OT field, his story, and how gaming is changing the future of OT.

I mean my dad and I 35-40 years of my life and probably played two games of Chess, you know in the last two or three years I played 80 games of chess with him. -- @OTUnleashed #stroke #OT #Gaming Click To Tweet


Erik Johnson Headshot outdoorsErik Johnson enlisted in the Army in 1996.  As a young Private, while stationed in Germany, he was involved in a car accident where he sustained second and third degree burns to over 20% of his body, most of which were on his arms and hands.  He decided to become an Occupational Therapist because of the influence from the OT that treated his burns.

After his time in the Army, Major Johnson has taken on several projects that directly impact veterans with a focus on successful re-entry to civilian life after discharge from the military.  He is currently volunteers as the Chief Medical Officer for Operation Supply Drop, an organization that serves Veterans by building strong communities through gaming and team building.  His work on the therapeutic benefits of video games have been widely recognized in both the Medical and Video Game communities.  Erik also is one of the founders for IDEGO, a company that is developing treatment opportunities while using Virtual Reality with a focus on behavioral health disorders.  The company uses Deferred Individualized Gradated Immersion Therapy (D.I.G.I.T) to achieve success.  Most recently, Erik teamed up with another non-profit organization where he has been recently named their Chief Medical Officer.  Working with Warfighter Engaged, their mission is to improve the lives of severely injured and disabled warfighters with custom adapted video game controllers, recreational items and other solutions to provide greater independence.

For more details, visit:


The neat thing about the Army is that the only field that covers veterinary medicine for the entire military. -- @OTUnleashed #stroke #OT Click To Tweet


Mirror Therapy

We talked a little about Mirror Therapy in the episode. Here is something I wrote about it a few weeks after leaving the hospital in 2017. I really need to get back to it again.

Bill using mirror therapy on his arm

This is my mirror box. It was $60 on Amazon which is way over priced. There can’t be more than $5 in materials in it. It would be easy to make. Of course if I could make it I wouldn’t need it.

The issues I have using my arm and leg are literally all in my head. That’s where the damage exists. The brain can be pretty dumb at times and easy to trick. That’s how the mirror box works.

I put my left hand in the box behind the mirror and put my right hand in front of the mirror. Then I look at the mirror and my brain thinks the reflection of my right arm is actually my left. When I move my fingers or wrist on the right, while I try to move them on the left, the brain thinks I’m actually moving them on the left. And then I get some actual, new movement.

The brain learns to move my left hand because it thinks it’s already moving my left hand. Classic fake it till you make it stuff.

While the price is annoying, if I get my fingers back faster, I can’t really complain.


Service members that are dealing with mental health issues, a lot of times will get on and say, I'm going to lose myself in this game because in this game, I'm important. -- @OTUnleashed #stroke #OT #Gaming Click To Tweet


A Teachable Moment

Last year I interviewed Anne Dailey and Mark French about their stroke documentary, A Teachable Moment.

The big news is that A Teachable Moment is now available for streaming in your own home via AMAZON Prime. If you are a Prime customer, check it out and share with your friends and family.

Congratulations to Anne, Mark, and the entire A Teachable Moment family for this big step.



I was working with amputees, like one of the big issues that we had was that Prosthetics couldn't operate a smartphone. -- @OTUnleashed #stroke #OT #dsability Click To Tweet

Hack of the Week

When you arrange things in your kitchen, or remodel you kitchen, make sure everything is at an appropriate height for you. That will depend on how tall you are, how stable you are while standing, whether or not you are in a wheel chair, etc.

Make sure controls are on the front of the stove to minimize reaching. And don’t forget the cabinets. Remember, reaching down can sometimes be as difficult as reaching up. So make sure any new design reflects your actual capabilities.

The overuse in the non-affected side of your body is tremendous. People often forget about that. -- @OTUnleashed #stroke #OT Click To Tweet



Essentially we want to just be the most generationally relevant nonprofit for veterans essentially thinking like the USO or VFW. -- @OTUnleashed #stroke #OT Click To Tweet

Where do we go from here?

  • What’s your experience with video games been like post-stroke or other disability? Let us know in the comments below.
  • Check out or Erik’s non-profits from the links above.
  • Share this episode with an OT or gamer in your life by giving them the link
  • Check out A Teachable Moment on Amazon Prime
  • Don’t get best… get better
It's not about tech and how cool it is. It's about empowerment that you know engagement. -- @OTUnleashed #stroke #OT Click To Tweet

Strokecast is the stroke podcast where a Gen X stroke survivor explores rehab, recovery, the frontiers of neuroscience and one-handed banana peeling by helping stroke survivors, caregivers, medical providers and stroke industry affiliates connect and share their stories.

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