For 31-year-old Tyler Post, Pokémon Go is much more than a game – the app has completely changed his life.
Tyler, who is paralyzed from the shoulders down, only left his house two times a year (at Christmas to see his family and for an annual visit to the doctor) before downloading Pokémon Go. Now the Jenison, Michigan, native goes outside every night “Poke hunting” with his 8-year-old nephew and best friend Brezlyn Post.
“I’m meeting new people and getting outside for the first time in a while,” Tyler tells PEOPLE. “It makes me feel normal again.”
Tyler was only 17 when a car accident left him paralyzed. He lives with his parents soon and has required 24-hour care from a nurse ever since the accident.
Kortney Post, Tyler’s sister and Brezlyn’s mother, says it “warms her heart” to see her brother and her son playing together outside.
“Tyler doesn’t really leave the house because as much as people and places say they are handicap accessible, they aren’t, and it’s easy for him to get secluded in his house,” Kortney, 33, tells PEOPLE. “Pokémon has revitalized him and given him a new hope that he can participate in things that others are participating in.”
She adds, “And Brezlyn can’t wait to see his uncle and hang out with him every day.”
Kortney says Brezlyn and Tyler work as a team to capture Pokémon in their neighborhood.
“Brezlyn is the hands and feet and motion and Tyler is telling him what to do,” she explains. “To see this deep connection that has formed between them just absolutely warms my heart.
“If you had told me a few weeks ago that Tyler would be outside, rolling around in his chair, I would say ‘You’re crazy!’ But look at him now.”
Brezlyn, who considers “Uncle Tyler” his best friend, says they have caught around 40 Pokémon together.
“We hang out all the time and if I don’t understand the game sometimes he will help me and we play together!” Brezlyn tells PEOPLE.
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“Plus I love him so much! We have fun looking for Pokémon.”
Ever since the accident 14 years ago, Tyler doesn’t like to ride in cars, so the dynamic Pokémon-catching duo stick to strolling around their Michigan neighborhood in the evenings looking for new creatures to catch.
“We go downhill, uphill, all around and Tyler rides down the street and I walk next to him,” Brezyln explains. “I hold the phone and Tyler tells me which way to go and then I catch them.”
Kortney says she is amazed at the positive change she has seen in her brother since he downloaded Pokémon Go.
For more on the Pokémon Go craze, pick up this week s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday
“It’s pretty crazy that it’s changed his life so much and it s a free app,” she says.
And Brezlyn and Tyler plan on playing until they can “catch them all.”
“I’m not so much of a shut-in anymore,” says Tyler. “Plus I get to hang out with Brezlyn, who means the word to me.
“Pokémon Go is a way for us to hang out and do something active just like everyone else.”