Play - So Important
Liam's most favorite person from the hospital came into his room bringing a big smile, some toys, and a great attitude. She introduced herself as Meg and asked if he would play with her for a bit. She explained that nothing she was going to do would hurt him at all - she just wanted to play with him. Her interaction with Liam really made his day (and my day too). She was able to get more speech out of him than anyone and had him using his right hand. They played with blocks, playdoh, puzzles, and cars.
Her official position is referred to as a Child Life Specialist.
As their playtime ended she invited Liam to come on down to the playroom as soon as he was ready to walk. (We visited later that same day with his physical therapist.) She also gave him a set of cars, playdoh and a puzzle to take home with him.
As an early childhood educator I know the importance of play. I didn't realize how big of a role play would have in Liam's road to recovery that soon after his stroke. I am still thankful for the time Meg spent with Liam making him feel comfortable and at ease in a very stressful situation.
I would venture to say that every children's hospital has a playroom. If you're ever looking for somewhere to donate any extra new toys (after Christmas or a birthday party perhaps) look into your local children's hospital. I know Loyola is always looking for new toys to help brighten the days of their youngest patients.
My friend sent me a great NPR article about child life specialists and how important they are to the functioning of a children's hospital.