Children's Hospital Uses Pokemon Go To Get Patients Out Of Bed, and It's Super Effective
Pokémon Go has been getting kids and adults alike up and moving since its launch, and this Michigan children's hospital is no exception.
C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has been encouraging children to "catch 'em all" since the fad began sweeping the nation two weeks ago, in hopes that bedridden children will be motivated to get up by a lurking Charmander, or will be inclined to make a new friend by striking up a conversation about where they caught their latest Meowth.
According to hospital digital director J.J. Bouchard, bringing Pokémon Go to their hospital couldn't have been more natural. In fact, staffers were already consumed by the frenzy.
"All of our nurses and doctors love it because they all grew up with it, and our patients were excited about it," Bouchard explained to InsideEdition.com. "Right away, I knew this was going to be a powerful tool to use to encourage patients to get out of bed."
Patients are often spotted independently wandering around the hospital, home to four Pokéstops and a gym, to catch Pokémon.
In addition, Bouchard said physical therapists may encourage a patient to squat in front of the camera as another patient takes his or her picture through the app so it appears the patient is petting the Pokémon.
"Our occupational therapists are already using it to encourage patients to get out of bed," Bouchard explained. "It's a fun tricky way to get the patients to do the excercises they didn't want to before."
The hospital also may start social activities around the game like a guided Pokémon Adventure, where a staff member may take a group of kids on a tour around the hospital to catch Pokémon together.
Sometimes, a patient may wander as far as the hospital's arboretum, which is marked as one of the hospital's four Pokéstops.
Bouchard said Pokémon Go's augmented reality is technology the hospital has been already using in different programs to stimulate younger patients, and this popular app is only an extension of measures they have used to cheer up patients.
More importantly, he explained that it has improved the overall mood around the hospital.
In addition to patients chatting around Pokéstops or walking into each other's rooms to talk about the latest Pokémon they have caught, the game bridges the generation gap between younger patients and nurses or doctors, who have been familiar with the concept since the franchise launched in the U.S. in the 90s.
"A lot of our nurses and doctors grew up with Pokémon, so they were really excited to share their knowledge," said Bouchard, who has reached level 8 in the game himself. "It's a new level of bonding that wasn't there before."
Though other hospitals have banned the game altogether, claiming people congregating in hallways or wandering into restricted areas have become dangerous, Bouchard said guards and staff have not noticed it to be a problem.
But, as a preventative measure, Bouchard said staff have started posting signs, reminding people where it is okay to catch Pokémon, and what areas are restricted.
Signs also remind kids not to post pictures of other patients, for privacy issues, and that posting a picture will let people know that a patient is in the hospital.
But, if patients do want to post a picture, Bouchard said he's gone around to all the hospital's Pokéstops and put up signs, with the hashtag #PokeMott so they can share the fun with each other online.
"It's just a fun thing," he said. "I don't know if it's a summer fling or something, but it's something positive and happy. Wherever you go, people are smiling a bit more and having a bit more fun than they normally do."