Playing Video Games as a Quadriplegic

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on May 19, 2020 # COVID-19, Mobility

I’ve been thinking of topics to write about during this “Stay at Home Policy” from the coronavirus outbreak. We are now on week 7 of this worldwide historical event. The time at home has many people looking for things to do other than watch TV. I do realize in the paralyzed world that each injury is different. There can be the same level of injuries but with different mobility. I thought I’d share my son’s experience playing video games. Maybe some of you played video games before the injury and after an injury. Perhaps you haven’t tried to play again, or you don’t know what games to try. Zack was 15 when he broke his neck at the beach. He became a C-4 quadriplegic. As a teenager, Zack’s favorite thing to do was to play video games. As his mom, I used to hate how much time he wasted on them. Zack was either outside hanging out with friends or gaming. He was really into gaming and good from what his friends and siblings told me. I never took the time or interest to understand the games he played. I just knew when his team lost due to the uproar of emotions!

Zack playing video games without hand function

After his injury, I would have given my life savings for him to be able to move his hands, wrists, and fingers and play those games now. I’m not quite sure how long it took for Zack to try again as a now paralyzed person. Zack grew up playing video games with his best friend, Dylan, who recently moved to New Mexico at the time of injury. As serious gaming buddies, I’d hear them talking back and forth. It sounded like they were speaking a foreign language. Zack’s accident happened on May 31, 2010, and that December, we flew Dylan out for a visit during Christmas break. This was only six months after Zack’s major life change. He could no longer play his favorite games like Halo or Call of Duty on Xbox. They required the use of quick finger movement and the ability to hold the controller pressing multiple buttons at the same time. The boys figured out other optional games on the computer, such as Clash of Clans, Clash, Royale, and World of Warcraft. I have a great photo of the two boys gaming together again. It was such a wonderful sight to see, and I didn’t care if they stayed up all night long. I was so happy to see Zack back in his element talking, laughing, strategizing, losing, and celebrating the victories of winning.Zack Collie and Dylan with their video game setup

It’s been almost a decade since Zack broke his neck, so much has happened in that time. He finished High School and went to college. It took him five years to complete his BA degree in Human Services. Now in his second year of grad school, he is getting a master’s degree in Counseling. There were many times that video games became obsolete to Zack. Homework and his schedule were the main priority. Sometimes it would take up a lot of his time. During this COVID-19 quarantine, he has picked up gaming once again, playing games like Call of Duty on his touch screen phone. Touch screen technology came out around the year he was injured and has been one of the best things ever!

During these weeks at home, Zack and his fiancé Bree borrowed a Wii system. They tried different games until they found a few he could play. Zack likes the Wii Sports. It reminded me of way back when we had a Wii system. We literally taped the controller to his hand since he could move his forearm a bit, so all he had to do was move his arm slightly, and his character would move in the game.

Zack and Bree with their Wii gaming system

I am now a video game supporter. I have drastically changed my view. What used to annoy me, I now see it as a way to interact with others, enjoy something fun, use your brain strategizing, and teamwork. Give them a try if you have not already.

About Amber Collie
My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

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