In 2012, the Seattle Children’s Hospital reported serving 351,147 patients, with an average stay of about 5 days. To aid the children and their families during that time, the hospital offers video games such as portable Wiis with a library of games. Should a patient be unable to enter the hospital playroom because of an illness that might be contagious, they can keep the Wii in their room. The hospital also offers iPads as another form of entertainment to patients who are expected to be staying a long time, and might not be able to leave their beds.
For hospital patients, the games are not just entertainment. “The hospital isn't the most exciting place to be, especially if you're not allowed to leave your room,” says Sara, a registered nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “I think video games play a role in the idea of distracting kids from their illnesses. If a child is in pain and he's forced to stay in bed without any entertainment, all he/she is focusing on is how much they’re hurting. But if we're able to provide them with a way to distract them even just for a moment, they're often able to escape their pain for a period of time.”
The Gamers Outreach Foundation is a nonprofit that started in 2007 with the goal of using video games to improve the lives of others. Wanting to bring relief to long-term hospital patients, the Gamers Outreach Foundation created portable entertainment systems, called ‘GO Karts’. On their website, Gamers Outreach recognizes that hospital stays can be lonely, and even frightening. Their goal by creating these mobile gaming kiosks is to help patients in their recovery. These mobile kiosks are built on a case-by-case basis, and have been supplied to hospitals across the nation.
If you are interested in learning more about the Gamers Outreach Foundation, including information about their care packages for troops overseas, gaming tournament fundraisers, or would like to donate to build a GO Kart, visit their website at gamersoutreach.org.