“People who cannot do things in their immediate surroundings can move freely within the game. They can do things which they felt they had given up, and start to gain a positive outlook,” said Eiichi Tanaka, 48, an occupational therapist at the hospital.

Nobuhito Maruyama, an associate professor at Showa Women’s University in Tokyo, has studied the way technological advances in virtual sports have promoted social engagement for people with disabilities.

“It creates opportunities for people to have more contact with society, and it also has a role as physical and mental rehab,” he said.

“We are starting to see players with disabilities in the world who are doing well in competitions for able-bodied players,” he said.

“It’s likely there are more ways for people with disabilities to thrive than we had previously considered.”