Orlando VA Medical Center patients have a new way to escape hospital routine: the therapeutic activity box, or TAB.

As the name promises, the TAB offers a choice of relaxing activities and materials for Veterans and loved ones to explore, from puzzles to coloring books.

“The TV only goes so far,” said Air Force Veteran Leon Hamlin, as he completed a word search puzzle. “This provides something for me to do. It’s great to have more options and stimulate my mind; it helps to get my mind thinking of something else.”

Nursing Officer Andrea Gison and Chief of Voluntary Service Adelina Sowell

Andrea Gison, Orlando Nursing Officer, and Adelina Sowell, Chief of Voluntary Service, created the TAB. Their aim was to help Veterans change focus from illness and procedures to seeing who can complete a puzzle the fastest. The activities also give patients a chance to connect with hospital staff.

Making a difference

“This project is simple, but I believe it can make a difference to the Veteran’s life while in the hospital,” said Gison. “The materials promote meaningful engagement between Veterans and nursing staff. Together they work to build puzzles or play cards.”

The TAB helps Veterans recover physically as well as emotionally. “As a Veteran, I’m passionate about serving other Veterans, and I’m excited to help create these boxes,” said Sowell. “I believe the boxes also serve to speed the recovery process for our Veterans.”

Army Veteran Rita Lewis

Army Veteran Rita Lewis customized a coloring book page to personally thank the “very special staff” caring for her.

“The coloring book takes me away from the environment that I’m in,” said Lewis. “The hospital isn’t always fun; this is a good idea, to bring a little fun in the mix,” she said.

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