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Game changer: LOONZ clears assessment hurdles

Game changer: LOONZ clears assessment hurdles Move over Angry Birds, there’s an elephant in the room

BURNET, Texas - With a Bluetooth-enabled specialty drive control and now a video game that can be used as a training and assessment tool, Gabriel Romero feels like Stealth Products is finally in a place where it's keeping up with mainstream technology.

“My background is in computer science, so anything involving programming or electronics in our industry, I've taken to,” said Romero, vice president of sales and marketing for Stealth Products, a division of Quantum Rehab. “It's always just surprised me that this industry hasn't been advancing faster when it comes to the technology surrounding us.”

Here's what Romero had to say about LOONZ, a video game that centers around an elephant whose dream is to travel the world via hot air balloon, and how it's changing the way the assessment process is viewed.

HME News: How did wheelchair technology get to a place where it can now support a video game?

Gabriel Romero: It started with the i-Drive alternative drive control. We released a Bluetooth version this year, and it allowed us to connect to tablets and PCs, and to really start exploring.

HME: Video games have a wow factor in and of themselves, but this one's also practical.

Romero: One thing I've always noticed is the tremendous amount of fear during an assessment. The users don't know what the chair's going to do; the therapists and the parents don't know what the user's going to do in the chair. It was hard to get a true assessment.

HME: How does LOONZ help?

Romero: It has an Angry Birds feel to it, so it's goofy but captivating. There are 16 levels. The first level is using the control to get the elephant up to the balloon to get a coin. Once that stage is cleared, the next is using the left command to get another coin; the next, the right command; the next, an up and reverse command; and it keeps going. There are arrows to help direct the user, and it's very rich in graphics.

HME: What's a practical application that speaks to how LOONZ changes the way the assessment process is viewed?

Romero: Billy comes in and he's in a manual, but he could do power, and the therapist wants to assess that. Using a battery pack and head array, Billy can practice the game using his manual chair. Mom and Billy can take the game home with them and practice. They can come back and they can all go over improvements. It's assessing without pressure. You don't have the mom saying, “No, last time we borrowed a power chair he hit the wall.”

HME: Why a video game?

Romero: My hobby is video games—I'm the dad beating my kids at video games. They can stimulate your mind and teach you things. And there's meaning to this one. The elephant is bullied a lot in school. It's all-around about inclusion.


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