For 48 hours, Patrick couldn’t move, even though he wanted to.
The 13-year-old was required to lay flat with no movement for multiple days on his hospital bed after surgery at Mass General Brigham for a complex tethered spinal cord. Patrick has tethered spinal cord syndrome, a neurological disorder in which the spinal cord’s movement is limited, impacting bladder bowel motion and memory.
Not only did Patrick feel physical pain and discomfort as he struggled to move but he also felt feelings of isolation and boredom, from long, drawn-out hours staring at the white walls in his room.
Patrick was hospitalized around the holiday season. Kids like Patrick who are hospitalized during this time often experience loneliness and fear missing family traditions. “Being in the hospital in holiday time is so upsetting for family and Patrick,” says Kathryn, Patrick’s mom.
Staying in the hospital was already difficult for Patrick physically, but it also took a toll on his emotional and mental well-being. Also having PTSD, ASD, ADHD, ID Anxiety, Depression, and Motor Coordination Disorder, “being in the hospital for complex medical care is very stressful for him,” shares Kathryn, Patrick’s mom.
In a time of stress and uncertainty, the Starlight Nintendo Switch Gaming Station gave Patrick and his family a sense of normalcy while supporting Patrick’s emotional well-being and physical recovery. The games Patrick played were great conversation starters and bonding opportunities with his family and medical staff. He even went head-to-head with hospital staff in a game of Mario Kart! In these ways, kids like Patrick develop new relationships and build trust with their medical providers.
Playing on the Starlight Gaming Station also helped distract Patrick from pain, discomfort, and boredom. The Gaming Station was a coping mechanism that redirected his focus on something positive and enjoyable. For Patrick, limited mobility, feelings of isolation, and long hours in the hospital were extremely stressful, but playing on the Starlight Gaming Station made the hospital an easier place to be.
“We noted a huge change and positive impact on pain perception. We could use the system during times when he had exams that were more painful. It gave a sense of control and accomplishment on days when Patrick struggled to move.” – Kathryn, Patrick’s mom
The variety of games and activities on the gaming station caters to many kids’ interests, can help spark new ones and provide educational opportunities. Patrick found the educational elements beneficial, seeing “it as a time to weave in STEM into a very long time in the hospital,” says Kathryn, Patrick’s mom.
The Starlight Gaming Station also aided aspects of his recovery process by supporting his Physical and Occupational Therapy services. Patrick had extensive mobility restrictions, but playing on the gaming station gave Patrick a way to engage in low-impact exercise.
Like it did for Patrick, the Starlight Gaming Station can provide emotional well-being and relief from pain, isolation, and boredom in a time when kids need it most.