High-Tech Hospital Room Empowers Rehab Patients

May 20, 2017 07:29 AM

There's a series of rehab rooms on the fourth floor of Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare that are described as "smart rooms."  Decked out in all kinds of high-tech gadgets, they are designed to help trauma patients take control.

Eighteen-year-old Johnathan Hotchkiss is one of the first patients to use the high-tech room.  He's a quadriplegic being treated for a spinal cord injury.


He's eager to demonstrate how he can use what's called a "sip and puff straw" to lower the shades in his room.  He also uses a voice control feature to turn on his TV, computer and XBox.

"Just being able to control stuff makes me feel a little happier.  I don't have to rely on someone else," he said.

The equipment can be customized for each patient, depending on their challenges.  Some may use an "eye gaze bar" to scan objects on a tablet that they want to control.  Others might use an infrared head tracker that takes commands through head movement.

Patients will be able use the equipment to do everything from adjusting the lights, moving their beds, closing the curtains and calling a nurse.

"I think it makes all the difference in terms of their mental well being and their motivation to participate in therapy," said Lisa Rounds, an occupational therapist at Gillette.

Gillette has three high-tech rooms.  They just started using them in March.  Right now, it's the only pediatric hospital in the state to have rooms hard wired this way.


Ellen Galles

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