Brainstorm Health: Microsoft Controllers for the Disabled, CBO and Medicare for All, Allergan Shareholder Vote


Sy Mukherjee

May 1, 2019

Hello and happy hump day, readers!

On what is perhaps television advertising’s biggest day, Microsoft played on the Super Bowl audience’s heartstrings.

The tech giant produced a widely-praised commercial during the Big Game earlier this year to advertise its Xbox Adaptive Controller, a special piece of hardware meant to help people with disabilities and limited mobility play video games on Microsoft’s popular console. Now, Microsoft is bringing those adaptive controllers to nearly two dozen rehabilitation centers to help disabled veterans get back into the game, The Verge reports.

The project, in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), makes sense for the military. Nearly 60% of Americans play video games regularly, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and the armed forces skew heavily male and young (both demographics that are far more likely to game).

Microsoft’s adaptive controllers are essentially programmable devices that have a whole lot of input jacks (nearly 20, in fact) which can interface with various external components used by people with disabilities. The hope is that veterans with mobility problems can use the tech to game on the Xbox or PCs, including for rehabilitation and therapy. For instance, certain games can help people sharpen their hand-eye coordination skills or muscle movement.

Video games certainly aren’t a new form of treatment—gaming, especially via virtual reality systems, have already been deployed in everything from soothing young patients undergoing painful procedures to trying to sharpen at-risk dementia patients’ minds. What makes Microsoft’s adaptive controllers so intriguing are their, well, adaptability—the way they can be used by people regardless of whether they’ve lost an arm, a leg, or have some other kind of handicap.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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