10 May 2021

Games helping rehabilitation with cardiac patients

Physiotherapist Megan Lewis shares the impact that having games is having for the patients on the cardiac intensive care unit (ICU).

 The cardiac ICU at University Hospital Southampton treats patients from 18 years old, and these are the people who need the most cardiac intervention through treatment or surgery.

Part of their recovery is down to the rehabilitation they receive, with the physiotherapists working closely with every patient. This keeps them active and helps to builds up their strength following surgery.

Recently, we asked Southampton Hospitals Charity to fund interactive games for our patients. It has greatly improved engagement and doesn’t make the patient feel like they are even doing physiotherapy! We have also found it helps with cognitive recovery and reorientation.

Before the Charity support, we used to have pen and paper, a few balls, and that was it. Now we have a trolley full of upper limb activities, adapted cutlery, sensory items, and interactive games. We can wheel it around to the patients, and go from there.

It means that we don’t have to prescribe routine exercises, such as to tell patients to just raise their arm five times a day. We can make it fun. Instead, they can play inflatable basketball or Connect4 to achieve the same thing.

These games are all designed to help the patients get their upper limbs moving, to use their hands, and improve their dexterity. A lot of the rehabilitation is humanising what we are doing as a way of distracting patients, and they are all activities they can continue to do at home.

We also have finer dexterity items such as paints, and also one of the most used items are our whiteboards. These are used as a communication aid, and can help with the dexterity in patients.

Other items such as Dobble and Lego are helping with cognition. These are stimulating and engaging and really help to motivate our patients to do their rehabilitation. They provide the perfect distraction from what is going on around them.

We can’t wait for the coronavirus restrictions to be lifted, as then patients can play the games with their loved ones. I must say that the nurses have enjoyed taking part in some of the games too, helping to lift everyone’s spirits!

Without the community’s donations to the Charity, this would not have been possible, so thank you.

They are just small items, but it means so much to our team, and our patients.

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