SCI Life March 2013

Chuck Bittner

Chuck Bittner

Just Call Him the Face Gamer
It’s no secret gaming is popular in the SCI world since it is a great way to escape limitations, but for quads getting in on the action, it can be tricky. But you don’t have to tell this to Chuck Bittner, a 38-year-old online gamer, comedian and all-around cool guy from Exeter, N.H.

Known as the “Face Gamer,” Bittner has a YouTube channel with over 600 videos showing him gaming. And yes, he plays with his face. “I hold the controller in my hand and use my chin and cheeks to hit the analog sticks, and then jump around and use my chin and upper lip to press the buttons on the control pad,” he explains.

He loves people’s YouTube comments. “I get ridiculous comments like ‘What does your controller taste like?’ to ‘Why do you play like this?’ —some people think I play with my face out of choice. Oh, I love the Internet.” Despite his skills, button remapping — changing what each button does on the controller — wasn’t possible on many games. So in 2010, he started an online petition to change the way games are made.

He says his petition has been successful. “More and more games are now shipping on launch day with remapping,“ he says, with Valve being by far his favorite game manufacturer. “They commonly have button remapping as a feature, and they added button remapping to Portal 2 just because of my petition,” he says.

And he’s funny, too. On his website, AskaCapper.com, he answers questions about wheeler life, where he also has his “can’t stand-up comedy” videos, showcasing his wry East Coast humor. “When Make-a-Wish called,” he joked — talking about how people freak out now whenever he gets a cold — “I told them I’m dying and want to do a cartwheel.”

Watch his gaming videos: www.askacapper.com.

Promising Research for Partial Quads
A study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found noninvasive stimulation of the nerves in the brain and wrist helped participants regain hand function, but the effect only lasted 80 minutes. The group studied consisted of 19 people with incomplete cervical SCI and 14 nondisabled individuals.

What researchers did specifically is electrically stimulate the ulnar nerve in the wrist. They also performed a transcranial magnetic stimulation, where an electromagnetic coil is implanted near the scalp, bypassing the injured spinal cord. Each participant received 100 paired perfectly timed electrical pulses. The researchers found that if timed right, the impulses could restore muscle control to the hand.

Researchers ultimately envision a nerve stimulator being made for people with spinal cord injuries they can use at home.

Learn more: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_131782.html.

sci313_2Yes You Can — Wii Fit
Ever dreamed of using a balance board on a Wii Fit? So did Dave Rountree, a paraplegic from Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, which inspired him to create the Floor-Board, the world’s first wheelchair accessible Wii Fit balance board. The design is best suited for manual wheelchair users, can withstand a max of 330 pounds and costs $150.

Go to www.lifelivelyactive.com.

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