Patients can Kinect with home for online games
AN INNOVATIVE computer games scheme will give hospital patients a chance to play online with families at home.
Four isolation rooms on Derriford Hospital's Birch ward are being kitted out with Xbox Kinect consoles.
Cancer patients will be able to play games to boost their physical health as well as ease boredom and loneliness during intense treatments.
They will also be able to compete with their families through the internet.
The computers will be used by leukaemia, lymphoma and bone marrow transplant patients who may be isolated for weeks or months while undergoing chemotherapy.
The consoles – at around £200 each – have been funded by the hospital, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Plymouth and District Leukaemia Fund.
Hannah Heayn, cancer information and support specialist at Derriford, said: "When patients have to undergo intensive chemotherapy their immune systems are compromised so they have to spend weeks, sometimes months, in clinical barrier rooms which protect them from any possible infections which they would be unable to fight off.
"During this time they are isolated, but having an Xbox Kinect in their room will help to provide motivation for health and wellbeing.
"They will be connected to the internet so patients who would otherwise be unable to interact with anyone will be able to compete against and enjoy themselves with, friends and family who are playing at home."
She said exercise stimulates hormones which can lift patients' mood and potentially reduce recovery times.
Scott Milway, organiser of the Plymouth Lymphoma Support Group and former patient, said: "This is a marvellous use of modern technology.
"I've been 27 years in remission from Hodgkins disease. This technology would have been very useful for me.
"With the debilitating effects of the drugs you don't feel like jumping about but you know you should be doing something.
"Something where you can have a bit of fun and sit in front of a screen would have been an incentive to make sure you move about a bit.
"It's also about sanity, keeping your mind on something else rather than the treatments. It's a welcome healthy distraction."
On Wednesday, patients and their families took part in Xbox Kinect dance and exercise games with motivational coaching from Marjon students.
The open day was run by Macmillan Cancer Support, Derriford clinicians and physiotherapists.
There is currently an Xbox installed in a public area on the ward.
After a month, four clinical barrier rooms will have the computers. Patients will be able to tailor their own exercise programmes through the games.
The other six barrier rooms on the ward will have resistance bands, pedal cycles and bed-based exercises.
The exercise programme builds on a £2.7million project to improve Derriford's facilities for patients with acute leukaemia or lymphoma and those undergoing stem cell transplants because of bone marrow failure.