In Japan, Esports Has Become A Regular Part of Treatment And Rehabilitation Regimes

In Japan, Esports Has Become A Regular Part of Treatment And Rehabilitation Regimes

Esports is finding broader applications at social welfare facilities across Japan, assisted by specially designed game software and devices.

Esports is being employed with the aim of preserving cognitive functions in elderly individuals and serving as a means of social exchange for those with disabilities. The Tokyo metropolitan government has started a project to provide game lending services to facilities for disabled individuals in the Japanese capital.

UDe-Sports Kyokai, a general incorporated association based in Koshi, Kumamoto Prefecture in southwestern Japan, is involved in the development and promotion of specialized games for esports. UDe-Sports stands for universal-design electronic sports.

Ryuta Ikeda, the representative director of the association and a physiotherapist, witnessed the diminishing social interactions with the outside world during his tenure at a nursing home, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ikeda encountered challenges with complex rules, controller skills and restrictions on the permanent installation of existing games in welfare facilities. In response, Ikeda and his colleagues decided to take matters into their own hands, starting the development of custom game software.

The UDe-Sports Kyokai association has shown ingenuity in transforming welfare equipment into a 7.5-centimeter-diameter button. It has also manufactured a small switch that can be operated with the chin or fingertips, along with a switch responsive to static electricity or blinking, among other devices. Through skillful combinations, even individuals with severe physical disabilities can engage in playing these specially designed games.

Currently, about 120 nursing care facilities and facilities for the disabled across Japan have adopted the association’s esports system through monthly contracts. The system accommodates up to four players engaged in simultaneous gameplay, and a monthly competition fosters online interaction among participants.

Surveys conducted by the association and other organisations indicate that sustained use of esports has contributed to enhanced attentiveness and motivation among elderly individuals. Furthermore, the findings reveal improving physical functions of disabled individuals.

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