How video games have been helping cope with illness.
Everyday, thousands of children around the country are diagnosed with a serious illness, whether it is cancer, autism, or another deadly disease. These children have to undergo serious lifestyle changes and many won’t ever see the outside of a hospital. Their lives are increasingly harder than the average American. They have to deal with real world problems as well as their looming disease which hinders them every day.
On many days, the stress is just too great and most children just want to take their mind of it and escape, even if it is only for a little while. Some find books, others surround themselves with friends and family, but 27 year old Kevin Biondalilo has a different way of living with his autism. Video Games.
“When I was ten I was diagnosed with autism. My life changed in an instant and honestly I didn’t really understand at the time. My parents put me into four different programs immediately to help cope with it and try to take control of it.”
It wasn’t long until Kevin couldn’t stand it anymore and said enough is enough.
“I was diagnosed with very partial autism. I could still function, I was able to play sports and run around, but my parents didn’t understand so I told them it needed to end. I stopped going to my autism classes at 15 and around then I found my first video game.”
Kevin bought an Xbox with the money his grandma gave him for Christmas. He got a few games and headed home. After he plugged it in, he immediately had an episode.
“It was strangely immediate. I turned it on and I went into one of my small episodes. My head feels like it is going to explode and it is just really uncomfortable. The strange thing was, I started playing Halo 2 just to try to get through it and playing the game made me almost completely not pay attention to my pain anymore.”
Over the past few years, video games have begun to evolve in ways no one ever thought were possible. Virtual reality headsets, graphics that look basically real, and stories that are so long you can get lost in the game for hours. Yet, people have still been using them in even more extraordinary ways. There has been a large increase in the use of video games in Hospitals,especially for children.
Kevin has, for the last three years, been working at Rochester’s Children’s Hospital. He has created a new wing of the hospital completely dedicated to video game research and stress relief.
“I honestly would work here for free. What I do is so life changing and impact full I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The look on are children’s faces when then are playing a game while getting Chemotherapy is worth every minute I put into this. I can relate to so many of them because I have been there.”
Kevin is not the only one who has started video game sections in hospitals. All around the country and the world, video games are being used to help children deal with the stress of being stuck in a hospital for entire days or weeks. They are used to increase focus in children with autism and Tourette syndrome. Enormous charities have been created to send games to hospitals all over the world.
Whether you are playing casually, playing for competition,or playing to help calm yourself down, video games have changed and impacted lives throughout the world. Who knows in the next few years what video games will help us do next.