Covid-19 Story Tip: Gaming Helps Front-Line Health Care Workers Recharge from Pandemic Stress

09/22/2020

VIDEO: Video Games Help Frontline Health Care Workers Recharge from Pandemic Stress
During the lockdown with COVID-19 restrictions in place, an interactive gaming room built to accelerate stroke patient recovery in The Johns Hopkins Hospital wasn’t getting much use. The therapists and neurologists running the gaming room decided to make the room available to staff treating COVID-19 patients to allow them to decompress.

Once in the immersive treatment room, it’s easy to forget you’re in a hospital. On one wall is a projected underwater seascape where a user’s arm movements maneuver dolphins and whales to eat fish and fight off sharks. The music from the game blocks out the chatter, shuffling steps, beeping machines and other typical noises heard around a hospital ward.

“We recognized that staff could be stressed at this time, and opening up the room gave them an opportunity to exercise, meditate and just have some time away from the hospital setting,” says Kelly Jordan, a physical therapist with the team. “This escape gives staff a mental boost and relaxes them so they can be better providers.”

The gaming room originally was set up to expedite patient recovery and reduce disability following a stroke. The team effort between engineers, neurologists and therapists is funded by the Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute. The game used in the treatment room was originally designed by the Kata Design Studio at Johns Hopkins, and is available as an app, too.

Occupational therapists Jordan and Sandra Deluzio can speak with media on opening up the game room to health care workers. Nurse Chevel Brown can discuss how the room has helped her de-stress during the pandemic.

Mona Bahouth, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of the Brain Rescue Unit and early stroke recovery group, is available to speak with reporters about the stroke unit of the future and innovative efforts to improve patient recovery.