Games in Healthcare

Football Players Use Video Games to Learn and Heal

PlayAction Simulator LogoVideo games are finding a growing place in professional and amateur football. While certain college football teams are using the hit EA SPORTS game Madden NFL to train their players, some pro players are training with video games to recover from injuries.

Released widely earlier in 2009, the Thunder PlayAction Simulator from XOS Technologies is helping football players learn and see their team’s playbook in 3D action. The system builds on the core technology behind the Madden NFL and NCAA Football games from EA SPORTS, with the latest version supporting every position on the field from quarterback to tight end.

Already used by the LSU Tigers, Oregon Ducks, Arizona Wildcats, Cincinnati Bearcats, Colorado Buffaloes and Tennessee Volunteers college football programs, XOS is hoping to see NFL teams use the simulator as well. Read More...

"No question, it puts guys in the thick of things, rather than watching film," said Erick Harper, Arizona's director of football operations, in a news article. "The way they are technologically and what they do with video games, it's right up their alley. It's what they do daily, as it is. … Roll it out, and they're into it."

The system also allows teams to view plays which they don’t typically encounter in action, leaving players better equipped. “All these situations that you want to prepare for, but that aren't common enough that you've got a lot of video evidence to teach, you can use a simulator and describe any scenario you want, exactly the way you want [players] to see it," said LSU video coordinator Doug Aucoin. "It's a game, but at the same time they're learning,"

XOS is not publicly stating the cost of the software, though the company’s director of product marketing, Matt Bairos, did say that the entry bundle is "in the neighbourhood of a five-figure investment."

While professional and college teams may be able afford the cost related to this technology, others have been using the retail version of Madden NFL to get a better grasp of the basics.

For example, ten time state championship-winning coach Chuck Kyle used Madden NFL during the summer of 2009 to prepare the Team USA junior national squad for an international football competition.

“I was like, ‘They’re going to be playing Madden anyway because that’s what kids do,’ ” said Bryan Massinen, an assistant coach for the team. “… When they’re sitting around anyway, they could play with our playbook, so maybe it would register a little faster.”

They imported their playbook using the PlayStation 2 version of the game, so players could use it to practice. While the option is not offered in the same way on the new PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 editions, Madden NFL designers are working to improve for future releases.

“In the future, we see Madden having the ability to build your own playbook and then inject yourself into that playbook or onto the other team so you can learn the appropriate way to react to those situations without having to be on the field and taking real hits,” said Phil Frazier, senior producer for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Madden NFL.

Game Helps NFL Linesman Get Back on his Feet

Having suffered from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in December 2008, defensive linebacker Kenneth Pettway, then with the Green Bay Packers, sped up his recovery thanks to video games. After surgery, Pettway used a new video game workout machine at the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute in Houston, Texas.

The Institute uses various simple game-based tests, where patients such as Pettway practice controlling their knee muscles to control a blue bar. Others tested his power and his duration. In addition to regular physical therapy and tradition rehabilitation techniques, using video games adds a competitive dimension.

"Exercise is not fun, especially when you're a pro athlete, and you can't do your thing. You need something to kind of give you a little competition during the exercise and to take your mind off the pain a little bit, too," said Russell M. Paine, director of rehabilitation at the Institute, in a news report.

"It's more challenging,” found Pettway. “It's a little bit more fun because you're playing a game and trying to beat your score. At the end, it gives you a graph and matches your scores up from the previous weeks."

After only two months of treatment, Pettway shed his crutches, shortening his rehabilitation by several months. The video game machine can also be used for hip and ankle injuries.