You’ve probably heard the buzz around Pokémon GO and how it’s taken the app world by storm. While some are mocking those who play the game, and others have expressed concern over the safety of the game, a Michigan children’s hospital has actually found a way to positively incorporate the interactive game into their patients’ treatment plans.
Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game that accesses user’s smartphone’s GPS and camera, in order to explore their surrounding in search of more than 100 Pokémon characters. In addition to collecting creatures on the go, the game also features “Pokestops”, where users can collect other items needed for the game, as well as gyms, where users are able to battle with their collected creatures.
However C.S Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan has found unique value in this latest craze. The Michigan children’s hospital is using Pokémon GO as a tool to get sick patients out of their rooms to exercise and interact with staff and fellow young patients.
In a recent USA Today article, Jennifer Griggs, mother of 11-year-old Braylon, said she and her son began playing the popular mobile app as a way to “get him out of the room to do something active because it gets a little depressing while you are in the hospital for a lengthy stay.” Braylon is receiving treatment at Mott Children’s Hospital for an inoperable brain tumor.
For young patients, a hospital can be a draining environment. According to J.J Bouchard, digital media manager and certified child life specialist at C.S Mott Children’s Hospital, in the past, young patients at the children’s hospital would often have little to no social interaction with fellow patients, but things have changed. J.J. Bouchard told USA Today, “It’s a fun way to encourage patients to be mobile.” Bouchard noted that it’s not uncommon now to see young patients stopping and interacting with each other over the game, which has helped those who struggle in social environments. Today reported about 6-year-old Ralphie, a patient who has autism spectrum disorder and hyperlexia. Through the use of Pokémon GO, Ralphie has been able to get to know other patients his own age.
In addition to the social benefits, the hospital has also discovered that Pokémon encourages kids to partake in their physical therapy. Therapists at C.S. Motts Children’s Hospital have noted that their young patients are more willing to raise their arms or squat down when in pursuit of capturing a Pokémon.