Hacking your way to the next level : creating an affordable game controller for your accessible needs



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My father, Tony Duff, the hero of my life, is physically and mentally disabled. He is a proud, disciplined man who retired from a thirty-year career in nursing—twenty of whom were on active-duty military service. Since having a stroke, he has been forced to adapt to his environment because of his limited abilities. Frustrated with his situation, he needed something more therapeutic than traditional physical therapy to help him thrive. So, I started to search for answers. There are many rehabilitation therapy techniques used that are effective for stroke patients, such as gaming. In the article Rehabilitation of the Upper Arm Early After Stroke: Video Games Versus Conventional Repair, author Isabelle Laffont et al. concluded that “playing video games thirty days after a stroke was more efficient than conventional rehabilitation on both sensorimotor recovery and gross grasping function.” Additionally, an article titled Video Games Effective Treatment for Stroke Patients states, “Patients who played video games…were up to five times more likely to show improvements in arm motor function than those who had standard therapy.” I wanted to know more, especially since my father has had several strokes. I noticed he was guarding his right arm instead of using it (Tony is right-handed). Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, the Stroke Outcomes Research Unit director at St Michael’s Hospital and lead author of this study, says, “It (video gaming) provides an affordable, enjoyable, and effective alternative to intensify treatment and promote motor recovery after a stroke. However, only some disabled individuals can use a standard gaming controller; other, more adaptive controllers can cost hundreds of dollars. By framing insights through research, development, and analysis, I began looking for ways video games could help improve stroke patients' motor function. I crafted different controller designs through iterative prototyping and testing processes that disabled individuals, such as stroke patients, can utilize to improve their motor function. This thesis report will present the analytical research, creative concepts, and prototyping that went into designing an inexpensive, accessible, and adaptable controller.



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