Preview: Advocating VR and Gaming in Hospitals
JJ Bouchard is the Patient Technology Coordinator at CS Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. If you’ve never heard of the Patient Technology Coordinator profession, that’s probably because Bouchard is the first of its kind.
Bouchard started as a Child Life Specialist with a role to help normalize the hospital experience for the patients and their families. His job was to teach the children about any test or diagnosis they might have and to go into the tests and procedures with them in hopes to distract them through the anxiety and distress that the procedures might provoke. Now, Bouchard is the Patient Technology Coordinator who assists the Child Life Specialist in finding ways to make a more normalized and enjoyable experience for children in the hospital by using technology.
Virtual reality and video games are the major technology products that Bouchard introduces to the patients. He says that the children are definitely impacted by it, but their family and the staff are as well.
Two big things that I hadn’t really thought of when we first started doing virtual reality was just the way kids move and I’ve had parents to literally break down in tears crying because they hadn’t seen their kid move that much in weeks since they’ve been in the hospital or move in that way. A lot of times our physical therapists will ask a kid to put their arm up in the air or straight out or move it forward, but when kids put on virtual reality they start moving and wiggling and squirming in ways you wouldn’t think to move in a hospital and you’d be surprised that a kid with all of these machines and wires hooked up to them could still move that way and have fun. So, that is one of the big things and the other is the social aspect of it. A lot of people think of video games and virtual reality and think someone is in a little cave all by themselves huddled up, but I think, what is really neat, is all the different devices we’re using, it sparks conversation, it gets people excited, wanting to get out of their rooms and get people talking about this experience they just had. And when their brothers and sisters or parents are visiting, it’s something for them to talk about that’s not just their diagnosis or whatever reason they’re in the hospital. A lot of people don’t know what to say or what to do when someone’s in the hospital but if you have something really cool like virtual reality there, then it gives them something else to talk about and to bond over.
Bouchard works with many charities and, alongside them, are trying to make connections with other hospitals all over the country and all over the world to try and put someone like him with a role to help coordinate VR and gaming in every hospital. Bouchard will be at SXSW in his panel Advocating VR and Gaming in Hospitals. He mentioned that he has never been to SXSW and is very excited to meet everyone, to see what other people are doing, and to also receive input from those who observe what he and his fellow panelists are doing.
Anyone coming to our panel is going to have a good time. We’ve got lots of good stories and I’m going to have some videos there too. I always love to see people’s reactions to the videos of the kids interacting with all the different technology that we have but, like I said, we’re going to be showing videos and sharing a lot of personal stories and stories from lots of different points of view and perspectives. So, if you just want to get an idea on what it’s like to work with video games in a children’s hospital or even in an adult facility, you’ll get a perspective from someone in all different areas in the realm.
Watch this interview and hear Bouchard talk more about his position as a Patient Technology Coordinator and what you can expect to hear at his panel!
When and Where:
Monday, March 13
5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Austin Convention Center – Room 9AB / 500 E. Cesar Chavez
Find out more: Advocating VR and Gaming in Hospitals