The Healing Power of Games

After his youngest daughter recovered from her fifth surgery at age 8, Extra Lifer Ben Gerber learned the healing power of games. Born with a right unilateral cleft lip, surgeons at Boston Children’s Hospital have been helping to reshape her upper lip and nose.

Her fifth surgery lasted 2.5 hours, and the Gerber’s were able to take her home that evening.

While she rested and healed from surgery, Gerber, an avid table top gamer, wrangled up a favorite game, Love Letter and sat by his daughters side playing.

“Something pretty amazing happened. For the fifteen minutes we played this simple little game, she forgot she was just hours out of surgery. There was laughter as she got the first three points before I scored even one. She concentrated on the game and the enjoyment it offered to the point where her mind was off her surgery,” said Gerber.

Over the next several days, Gerber observed it time and time again. As each day passed, they tackled more games.  Towards the end of any pain medicine cycle, they began to play games.

“There’s something very amazing about the mind’s ability to focus on a task that’s enjoyable and literally exclude the stuff that’s not,” says Gerber.  “It was great to see – greater to be a part of it. It also did amazing things for my peace of mind as well, distracting me just as thoroughly as it distracted her.”

Gerber became involved with Extra Life six years ago from an online post from a fellow table top gamer. Since he knows first-hand what it’s like to have a child be a patient at Boston Children’s Hospital, it means a lot to him to be able to game through Extra Life and support the patients and their families.

“It’s amazing the support that I know patients and families receive from Boston Children’s. Not just from the staff and the medical teams but in the form of all the apple juice my daughter could drink and different flavors of Jello. In the play room they had set up in her area and in all the little things that help kids to feel like they’re the priority, as it should be.”

Extra Life is a Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals fundraising program within the gaming community. Over 50,000 gamers like Gerber unite together each year to raise critical donations while playing games – from console, to PC, to table top, mobile and more.

Extra Life continues through December 31. Anyone who is interested in participating is welcome to register and learn more.

As for Gerber and his family, things have been looking up since the surgery. She is back in school, pain free, and happy.  And, according to Gerber, “She did make me promise though that tonight we’d play another game. Who am I to say no?”

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