On 30 April, multinational technology company Microsoft Corporation announced that it had entered into a collaboration with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to “enhance opportunities for education, recreation and therapy for Veterans with mobility limitations”.
The partnership, which was formalised on 18 April, will introduce the Xbox Adaptive Controller — a video game controller designed for those with limited mobility — into select VA rehabilitation centres around the country as part of therapeutic and rehabilitative activities aimed at “challenging muscle activation and hand-eye coordination, and greater participation in social and recreational activities”.
The VA and Microsoft said they jointly “identified an opportunity” at 22 VA medical centres across the United States “to introduce or reintroduce gaming to Veterans with spinal cord injuries, amputations, and neurological or other injuries”.
Microsoft is donating its Xbox Adaptive Controller, game consoles, games and other adaptive gaming equipment as part of the collaboration. Designated VA staff will engage with veterans using the equipment, and share feedback with Microsoft on “therapeutic utility” and veterans’ experiences using the technology.
The company has a “long-standing strategic partnership” with the VA, having worked with them for over 20 years to provide care and service to veterans.
According to Microsoft, gaming is a popular pastime of military personnel. The company opined that across to the Adaptive Controller for the Xbox, Microsoft’s flagship games console, provides veterans with the “opportunity . . . to experience gaming’s various benefits”.
These allegedly include staying in contact with friends and family around the world, building esprit de corps through competitive or cooperative gameplay, and providing stress relief.
Controllers will not only be available to veterans at the facilities participating in the project, alongside other equipment, they will also be accessible at events hosted by the VA’s Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events, such as the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.
Sixteen centres have confirmed their participation in the programme to date, including the Central Alabama VA Health Care System (HCS) and the James A Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Florida, with at least six additional centres projected to join the project in the future.
“This partnership is another step toward achieving VA’s strategic goals of providing excellent customer experiences and business transformation,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. “VA remains committed to offering solutions for Veterans’ daily life challenges.”
“We owe so much to the service and sacrifice of our Veterans, and as a company, we are committed to supporting them,” added Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Our Xbox Adaptive Controller was designed to make gaming more accessible to millions of people worldwide, and we’re partnering with the [VA] to bring the device to Veterans with limited mobility, connecting them to the games they love and the people they want to play with.”