Much is written about the masterful ways virtual reality games aid in the advancement of rehabilitation, but an additional function should also be emphasized. When children play these interactive games it gives them great joy, a sense of achievement and control that they may otherwise not feel. In turn, parents and therapists see the tremendous exhilaration from the child, which is equally rewarding for them. Timocco’s Sarit Tresser had an exceptionally special experience while visiting IDUD, a special needs school for children with mental and physical disabilities. To introduce the therapeutic value and enjoyment created through playing the Timocco games, two children were given the opportunity to play. Both children had different challenges. The boy, aged 16 was high functioning meaning he can talk, walk and communicate, however he has cognitive disabilities; he has limited vocabulary, and trouble expressing himself. The second child was a girl, aged 14 with medium level functioning. She needed the use of her wheelchair and communicates with the use of her eyes.
The reason for introducing the game to children with different conditions was to show the effectiveness of the Timocco games for those with different motor and cognitive functioning. Timocco games also have different levels of difficulty and advancement, applicable for varying motor control functions. To illustrate the separate utilities, first the boy played. He was given the balloon popping game. He began by popping balloons at random and then advanced to a higher level. To enhance the child’s skill of visualization and color discrimination, he had to pop the balloons based on color; right hand popped red balloons and the left hand popped green balloons. This level of advancement is called “cause and effect,” requiring concentration and attention. As the child successfully mastered the levels it created a sense of joy and achievement, which he expressed with great enthusiasm.
Showing the child how to utilize the tools of the game is important before they begin playing on their own. Next the girl played, Tresser began the instructions in three steps, first by playing the game for the young girl to watch. Step two, the child held one ball while Tresser used the other ball, supporting the child’s hand by moving it with her own. In the third step, the young girl was able to play by herself. Her range of Motion was spectacular and even unexpected.
“It was a very special, and beautiful moment”, says Tresser. “The young girl had physical limitations, and when she arrived she had both hands in her lap, and was quite introverted. Once the girl began playing the game, she was able to absorb the instructions very fast, and picked up the skills and moved right up the levels. The truly magnificent moment was watching the sheer joy come over the child. Her hands were moving in the air expressing the excitement as she was completely engulfed in the game. It was an incredibly moving experience for both myself and the child.”