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SpecialEffect News

11 Oct 2019

The special effect that's going beyond gaming

It’s always a privilege to extend our mission to help people facing physical challenges, and it's our StarGaze project team who are quietly taking our tech and techniques beyond gaming to change lives in many different ways.

The team make life better for people in a careful, specialist and person-centred way. Sometimes that means trying out cutting-edge technology like eye-controlled computers, and sometimes a low tech approach pays off.

Take Rosemarie for example, whose condition caused weakness in her hands and meant that she struggled to use her phone to keep in touch with her family and friends while in hospital. Our team introduced a simple velcro-covered tray and a cleverly adapted stylus, stabilising the phone and giving her the ability to text and call again. As an extra bonus she could change the TV channels and bed controls with her stylus as well!

Below: Rosemarie's back in control

A smiling Rosemarie sits in chair using a stylus to control a handset

Then there's impact of assistive technology. Gillian Taylor, our Senior Occupational Therapist, talks more about some of the incredible people the StarGaze team have recently helped in hospitals, rehab centres, care homes and their own houses.

“There’s a young woman whose whole body was severely burned in a house fire who’s using SpecialEffect tech to keep in touch with her family and friends through Facebook and email during her long stay in hospital,” Gillian explains. “Several people in intensive care who’ve suddenly been paralysed due to spinal injuries are using specialist access technology and software to independently read books, control their music, play some games and fill long hours by making the most of the internet. They and their loved ones are realising they can still do stuff, but in a different way.”

Below: Hannah, Gillian, Liz and Mhairi, part of our StarGaze team, are taking our support beyond gaming

Group shot of four of the StarGaze team

"We're helping several people who are unable to speak - some temporarily because they need help to breathe and others permanently due to stroke or a neurological disease - to use our tech to get their message across to others. A man with motor neurone disease is designing horse jumps with software that makes the most of his limited hand and finger movements. A lady who also has motor neurone disease is using eye-gaze technology to contribute to the running of her house and family, including doing the weekly online shopping!”

“We also helped a young woman who's had surgery to remove a brain tumour to press a switch to skip through music tracks. It might not seem like much, but it is when you’re aware of everything going on around you but haven’t been able to communicate or do anything at all for several months.”

So whether it’s during rehab and recovery, or enabling people to continue to do the things that are important to them as their condition progresses, it’s always a privilege to work with them to try and make their difficult situation just that little bit better.

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