Atlanta, GA,
14:18 PM

Gaming Beyond Injury

Shepherd Center and the AbleGamers Foundation partner to help people enjoy gaming after spinal cord and/or brain injury.

Research shows that people with disabilities are 51% more likely to be socially isolated than their non-disabled peers– a challenge that two organizations hope to help solve by making gaming more accessible to people after spinal cord and/or brain injuries.

Shepherd Center, an Atlanta hospital that provides complex rehabilitation for those affected by spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, multi-trauma, multiple sclerosis, and pain, has recently partnered with AbleGamers, an organization that promotes inclusive play to create opportunities that enable video game play to combat social isolation, foster inclusive communities, and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

“Gaming is a critical recreational activity for many of our patients,” said Jared Grier, rehabilitation engineer at Shepherd Center’s Assistive Technology Center. “It’s important that Shepherd Center is equipped to help those with an interest in gaming be able to do so to the best of their abilities. Our partnership with AbleGamers will provide Shepherd Center staff the resources they need to keep our patients gaming and connected to the communities they are a part of.”

AbleGamers provides Shepherd Center with initial training and ongoing support for staff along with assistive technologies, such as adaptive controllers or customized devices that help remove barriers to play. Specially trained therapists and rehabilitation engineers at Shepherd Center work with patients during their rehabilitation to test technologies and assess what they need to game. When the patient returns home from Shepherd Center, AbleGamers can often grant the customized equipment for personal use at no cost to the person.

 “In 2022 AbleGamers’ Sr. Director of Peer Counseling, Andy Wu, began focusing on meeting players with disabilities where they are, and that set us on a path to find partners that understood the power that gaming brings to people,” said Mark Barlet, founder and executive director of AbleGamers. “You could not ask for a better partner than Shepherd Center, one of the top rehabilitation centers in the United States. Shepherd Center’s commitment to bringing AbleGamers’ mission into their work demonstrates the true value of the outcomes when we enable people with disabilities to have fun.”

And for both organizations, the mission is personal.

“The fact that we can partner with the same organization that helped one of our own employees, Aaron Price, is just icing on the cake,” said Barlet. “His work at Shepherd Center enabled him to continue his passion for gaming, which he now gets to share with others through his work at AbleGamers.”

Learn more about innovation and assistive technology at Shepherd Center. 

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.