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Hospital Introduces Video Game Therapy – Scrubs

OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Oregon is offering a new program designed to help children develop important social and emotional skills through video games. Patient technology specialist Sam Giles Le Blanc spends his days examining patients with a knock on the door. “Are your needs related to video games being met?” he asks each child.

He’s become known around the facility as the “video game guy.” The initiative is part of the hospital’s Child Life Therapy Program, which was created to help children feel more comfortable in the hospital. Therapy can include art, music, games, costumes, toys, and even a visit from one of the hospital’s therapy dogs.

The team behind the program wanted to help sick children play and have fun while they were at OHSU, and playing video games can help restore some normalcy.

“The therapeutic play program provides an additional layer of support for patients and families here at Doernbecher,” said Rebekah Coles, manager of OHSU Doernbecher’s Child Life Therapy Program. “Providing an activity that keeps a child busy in the hospital helps improve their coping and overall contributes to their social emotional health.”

Giles Le Blanc said that most children who come to the hospital are video game enthusiasts. He helps them settle in by showing them how to browse the library of available games and encourages them to try something new.

“Gaming allows young people to feel at home in a way that few others can,” he said. “Video games offer a way to get away from things around them, but it’s also a way for kids to connect with their friends outside of the hospital — and when your life is turned upside down from illness or injury, is.” that’s a really big deal.”

The games can be just as fun for kids new to video games, he added. They enjoy playing multiplayer or competitive games that are easy to pick up even without much experience.

“When something happens to you and you’re stuck in a bed for a few months, you start to reevaluate your relationship with video games,” said Giles Le Blanc. “Eventually, a digital adventure would be helpful.”

Minecraft Dungeons and Overcooked! 2″, a realistic cooking game, are two of his personal favourites.

The program was made possible thanks to a donation of eight Xbox Series S systems that came with games preloaded by a nonprofit organization called Games for Love. Giles Le Blanc requested the donation, which was managed through the Fully Loaded Electronics Foundation.

“This is probably the most generous gift our video game program has ever received,” said Giles Le Blanc. “We’re talking world-class equipment, and the magnitude of the donation means these slots will impact the lives of thousands of children over the years.”

His position at the hospital is funded by Extra Life, a donation program run by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

“Sam has a unique way of connecting with patients and families and meeting them where they are in the hospital,” said Coles. “He helps children get up and move when needed, he provides company and distraction, and he even plays for the patients when they are unable. It offers so much social interaction, distraction, comfort and fun.”

Patient Chance Wschnofske, 20, said playing video games has become his favorite part of being in the hospital.

“I like playing here on Xbox because it reminds me of the ones I have at home,” Wischofske said. “If there was a video game made about me it would have to be Venom because his moves are absolutely rock star genius.”


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