“Dear Wise Kings: 

If I could ask  you anything, I would ask you the discharge from the ICU and be cured of all my sufferings.

But my doctors tell me that, even they are trying everything, this is not possible at the moment. So I would like to ask you another thing; help me with the time. Help me to these endless hours go faster, give me something that remember me who I am, why I am here and what is happening. I need something that stimulates my brain and my soul now.”

From the ICU/Research Institute of Hospital Universitario La Fe and the Instituto Tecnológico de Producto Infantil y Ocio (AIJU) want to make echo of these letters and wishes. Following the road of Proyecto HU-CI we have joined our medical, psychological, and technological knowledge to come up with a prototype based on the technology of information and communication applied to the critically ill patient (CriTIC). By obtaining a research grant awarded in the second edition of IIS la Fe-REDIT (Technological institutes Network of Comunitat Valenciana), we will design and obtain a device whose ultimate goal is entertainment and stimulation of the patient admitted to the ICU.

On a support that should meet the needed requirements with regard to size, manageability, resistance and asepsis (compatible with products of disinfection), we will design a software that must encompass the broad spectrum of the type of ICU patient and the needs. To understand and properly meet these needs, it is necessary to listen to patients: in a first approach to the project we will carry out interviews with persons who have had a stay in the ICU. We will collect information about their hardships, shortcomings, experiences and aspirations.

Even the fully conscious patient, for example after an acute uncomplicated myocardial infarction, could seem perfectly capable of staying entertained, he/she usually lives a degree of relocation and stress which makes necessary a special approach. We understand that such a patient would benefit from complete medical information, an explanation on the environment and an intellectual, emotional and physical stimulation. And perhaps the more practical is the availability and accessibility of various programs whenever needed by the user.

At the other end we would manage very ill persons in weaning after a period of serious illness. These people usually do not have still recovered all their physical and mental capabilities and they usually have emotional suffering. CriTIC must adapt to these circumstances and provide seemingly simple interventions that can help the patient to be located, to remember and to stimulate progressively all the functions.

CriTIC can never replace human encouragement and solace that represents the company and affection that provides anyone committed to the comfort of the patient. However, it can help to cope with the time, to recover individuality and independence; helping to care for, entertaining and comforting to the person.

“We cannot escape from pain; we cannot escape from the essential nature of our lives. But we have a choice. We can give up or we can fly, persevere and create a life that is worthwhile, a noble life. Pain is a fact; our evaluation of the same is a choice”.  Jacob Held.

By Paula Ramírez, Intensivist at Hospital Universitario la Fe (Valencia).