Tom Basso loves to get out and ride his motorcycle, taking trips up to two weeks long in places as far away as Italy. It's no surprise then when he comes to the Cancer Center for infusion once every two weeks, he and his significant other, Marcia, are often loaded down with motorcycle magazines as part of their day's reading materials.
"I'm usually here for a good five hours," Basso says of his chemotherapy treatments. "We try to bring enough with us to fill the time."
During an infusion appointment, Basso noticed volunteers circling through the infusion area, offering laptop computers and other electronics for patients to sign out during their visit. He decided to use an Apple iPad tablet for the day.
"It's a great service," Basso says. "I checked my email initially because I follow my friend's online updates about his time spent in India. I also look at used motorcycles for sale. If you're a motorcycle owner, you're always in the market for a new one."
Apple iPads are the latest technology available to Cancer Center patients through the Sight and Sound Program, established in 2008 to provide relaxation and distraction to patients during treatments. Initially offering iPods loaded with music and podcasts, the program has added laptop computers and iPad tablets that allow patients to search the Internet or play games during their time at the Cancer Center.
"We strategically selected the applications loaded on the devices, creating categories of applications diverse enough for everyone, whether someone wants to read a business journal, play a game or listen to music," says Karen Hammelef, R.N., M.S., director of Patient and Family Support Services.
The iPads come pre-loaded with apps, which are grouped in categories such as books, entertainment, games, health, music, news and sports. Patients can access the Internet through the web browser Safari, which lets you search for things like your personal email accounts, and in Basso's case, restaurant menus and routes for future motorcycle tours.
In exchange for a valid picture ID and the patient's registration number, the device can be borrowed for the day, until 4:30 p.m. Members of the Tech Squad and the PERC provide basic training on how to use the device, connect to the Internet and open applications.
"The Tech Squad is great," says Lori Boylan, information resource assistant at the PERC. "They're students so they know how to use technology and can help even beginners get started. We want them to encourage patients to give it a try, especially if it helps their day go by faster."
Basso still brings his motorcycle magazines to his appointments, but uses the iPad as a back-up.
"We check out an iPad when we run out of reading materials. Or, we’ll use it to check email or look up restaurant menus. It's a good option to have," he says.
- from the volunteer Tech Squad, made up of students who travel through patient areas with a cart full of devices to try
- through the Patient Education Resource Center, or PERC, located on Level B2 of the Cancer Center
In his free time, Basso likes to build custom furniture, everything from kitchen tables to stools to bookshelves to bathroom vanities. He and Marcia are also planning a motorcycle tour out west this summer, heading toward Seattle.
"We look forward to it," he says. "It's great to get out after being cooped up all winter. We might ride as much as 450 miles in a day. After all that planning and riding, you deserve a hot shower and a nice, comfy bed."
iPads were made available at the Patient Education Resource Center through donations from:
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