Xbox Adaptive Controller is Helping Veterans Game Again

Published: November 13, 2019 7:00 AM /


Xbox Adaptive Controller corner of controller

The Xbox Adaptive Controller is a pretty neat gaming device, especially for people who have difficulties with the more physical aspects of gaming. Now, one of Microsoft's coolest creations is helping disabled United States military veterans game again.

If you're unfamiliar with this device, the Xbox Adaptive Controller is a pretty cool piece of kit. It might look strange, but it's a remarkably versatile game controller. In addition to the built-in buttons, it also includes multiple 1/8" plugs for every single input signal possible with an Xbox controller. This, in turn, lets you hook up any conceivable device to customize a controller for people with disabilities.

Suppose, for example, that someone only had one functional arm. They could hook up a series of foot pedals to the controller and use those for a portion of the controls instead, allowing them to keep on gaming when they otherwise wouldn't be able to. Now, this same great game controller is helping out U.S. veterans.

Xbox Adaptive Controller components
The Xbox Adaptive Controller is remarkably customizable and can be used by nearly anyone (regardless of disability) thanks to the ability to use custom input devices.

Xbox Adaptive Controller is 'A Good Getaway' for Vets in Pain

"I primarily use it as a distraction from chronic pain because I have neuropathic pain in the lower part of my body and it feels like my limbs are on fire," said 31-year old Matthew Wade as reported by the Washington Post, a Navy veteran who lost the ability to use his limbs after falling 40 feet (12.2 meters) from a broken flagpole.

"The more that I’m totally distracted or immersed in a game, the more that pain tends to go away," he added.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Microsoft have engaged in a partnership to enhance "socializing, therapeutic, and rehabilitative practices" for veterans through the medium of gaming. As an example of this partnership, the Washington D.C. VA Medical Center is holding weekly outpatient clinics where wounded vets can play together using the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

That's not to say that the V.A. is just getting some guys together to game (although there wouldn't be anything wrong with that in and of itself) — they're also gathering valuable data. They're focusing on learning about pain management and socialization in an effort to measure the effectiveness of what they're calling "therapeutic gaming".

Microsoft has made its fair share of missteps over the years, but the creation of the Xbox Adaptive Controller has undeniably been one of their better moves. Games unite people around the world, and now there's one more tool out there that lets us all play together.

What do you think of the Xbox Adapative Controller? Do you have someone in your life who uses one? Let us know in the comments below!


Have a tip, or want to point out something we missed? Leave a Comment or e-mail us at

A photograph of TechRaptor Senior Writer Robert N. Adams.
| Senior Writer

One of my earliest memories is playing Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I… More about Robert N