By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota mom is taking years of pain, and offering healing to others via a video game.

It’s no secret kids get sucked right in to video games. Eight-year-old Samantha and 10-year-old Charlie are no exception. But this is a vortex their moms are beyond grateful for.

“She doesn’t even realize she’s learning while she’s playing,” said Samantha’s mom.

Because every parent who has a child with a learning difference knows that progress is precious. Dolly Lowery’s son has dyslexia.

“Getting a proper diagnosis was difficult, and even when I did get a proper diagnosis, it was like, ‘Where do I go and what do I do?’” Lowery said. “And then I would spend three years at a clinic, literally three years, and see no improvement.”

And one day, while waiting at yet another appointment, the Minnetonka mom had an epiphany.

“I knew at that moment if we could create a video game, parents could do something that would be more accessible in the home,” Lowery said.

She used her background in software to collaborate with a Florida physician to create BrainyAct by Kinuu.

“Every time a child comes in, we work the brain from the bottom to the top, so we really do focus in on the lower brain functions, the gross motor, the rhythm and timing, the directionality, balance,” she said.

And they do it with a series of games, like “The Arrow Game,” “The Piano Game,” or “The Fly Swatter Game.” It’s targeting kids with autism, ADHD, anxiety and dyslexia just to name a few — and it’s adjusted for each player’s needs.

“We can look at the child from the left side of the body, the right side of the body, and determine what’s disconnected or weakened, and then the game is personalized to target those weakened areas, so about 75% of the game works the weakened areas, and 25% were working the strengths,” Lowery said.

The price for the BrainyAct program is about $2,000. You can have an in-home system, or come to a center and have a coach like Samantha does.

“The games have really helped her with her concentration that we witnessed through the time. Her teacher also noticed it,” said Samantha’s mom.

The third grader, who has ADD, is also having much fewer outbursts.

“It’s helping me because if I get angry, I’m not getting upset and all of that. It’s just helping me get rid of it and going back to regular,” Samantha said.

Charlie has also seen big results.

“It helped me do a lot of stuff I wasn’t able to do,” Charlie said.

“For example, prior to being here he was actually not able to do a jumping jack at 9 years old, and by the time he was done, his karate instructor was like, ‘What happened to him?’ And he could do 60 jumping jacks in a row without stopping,” said Charlie’s mom.

And his reading jumped 22 percentile points after just a few sessions.

“What’s most gratifying about our company is that families come in and they give us stories of improvement,” Lowery said. “They talk about math, and test scores and self-confidence.”

It’s a way to help kids with learning differences feel the same.

BrainyAct is wrapping up its first year on the market. The company hopes to extend the technology to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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