Charity-funded sensory projector improves mobility of child cancer patients

Patients receiving cancer treatment at Staffordshire Children’s Hospital at Royal Stoke are benefitting from a cutting-edge interactive sensory projector thanks to charity funding.

Following a grant from UHNM Charity, patients on the Children’s Oncology Unit are seeing their mobility improved during treatment as a result of using the equipment.

The omiVista Mobii 3 projects interactive sensory content including games and moving imagery onto flat surfaces such as the floor and tables.

Patients interact with this content through touch- either with hands or feet.

Julie Eaton, Children’s Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist at Staffordshire Children’s Hospital at Royal Stoke, which is part of University Hospitals of North Midlands, said: “Some of our treatment affects the tendons in patient’s legs and can lead to painful mobility issues. Patients can lose the ability to walk and can even become bedridden.

“However we’re now seeing massive improvements in the mobility of patients who use the projector. The range of games and activities not only stimulate and entertain patients, but encourage them to exercise and move from crawling, to walking to jumping.

“It’s being utilised on toddlers right up to early teens. Our patients are more likely to engage with the content on this than listen to a physiotherapist asking them to do exercises, it’s physio that’s fun.”

The projector is fully portable and can be wheeled into different cubicles on the Unit.

It can also be utilised by the hospital’s teachers and play specialists as an educational tool for inpatients.

One of the patients to benefit from the new equipment is Wyatt Forster.

The three-year-old from Waterhayse was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in July 2022, a type of cancer that affects white blood cells.

Mum Rhiannon Forster said: “I was first alerted to Wyatt when he became increasingly lethargic. After weeks of antibiotics from the GP didn’t work, he was sent for a blood test to Staffordshire Children’s Hospital at Royal Stoke which told us what he’s got. During his treatment he unfortunately caught a fungal infection at home which meant his chemotherapy had been on hold for a while whilst he fought that, but thankfully he’s now well enough for it to resume.

“The care here has been fantastic, I cannot fault anybody. For example, I had a nurse take the time out of her busy day to sit with me and hold me as I cried as I shaved off Wyatt’s hair off because he was pulling it out. It’s been amazing here, every time we’ve needed anything they’ve got it.”

She added: “I think the projector is super- I want one for my house! When Wyatt was first diagnosed he was bedridden for months and months and lost the ability to walk. All the muscles in his legs had gone, he had gone super skinny. The only part of his body that was big was his belly and that was due to the size of his liver with the fungal infection. But thanks to this projector we’ve got him back walking again. At first he could only crawl, but his mobility improved a lot and he was soon walking with a frame, then unaided.

“To everybody that’s supported UHNM Charity and enabled the Unit to buy this equipment I want to say thank you, you’ve done amazing job. I was so inspired by the work of the Charity that I even decided to donate toys to the playroom for other kids. I would love to climb a mountain or do something else for UHNM Charity, but at the moment I have other priorities but am looking for something I could do. My husband is also planning a Snowdon climb in the summer with friend for the Charity.”