What are some objects that a patient in the hospital can safely "fiddle" with?
February 18, 2011 7:17 PM   Subscribe

What are some objects that a patient in the hospital can safely "fiddle" with?

I have a relative in the hospital who is mentally deteriorating a bit. He likes to do things with his hands and as an unfortunate side effect he has been accidentally pressing the call button. Right now, it's fine, but I want to give him something to fiddle with so he doesn't totally alienate the nurses!

My first thought was something like a coin, but that's too small and could easily get lost. Things like puzzles or a Rubiks cube are not a good idea because they could get him agitated in actually trying to solve them!

Any ideas?
posted by jeremias to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I asked a similar question and while many of the answers were more puzzle related it is worth perusing.
posted by ChrisHartley at 7:19 PM on February 18, 2011


Buckyballs! They are small, but they are so magnetic that I've never had one disappear. Very engrossing indeed.
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:23 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


How does he fiddle with it? Does he like to press the buttons or manipulate the item?
posted by Leezie at 7:23 PM on February 18, 2011


You might ask the nurse for a 10 ml saline flush--have her uncap and empty it. It may be soothing to push and withdraw the plunger--my kiddo really likes playing with them like that when he finds a stray in my scrub pockets. Simple, cheap, safe, available where he's at, and easily replaceable.
posted by rumposinc at 7:25 PM on February 18, 2011


Koosh ball!
posted by mollymayhem at 7:25 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I suggested a Rubik's Twist in that thread. It's good for fiddling with, can be folded up compactly (but isn't small enough to get lost when bedding is changed), and there's no particular solution to pursue. It provides a satisfying hands-on feeling as well as the visual feedback of seeing its shape change. Best wishes for your relative's speedy recovery, and good on you for thinking about his well-being and the nurses' sanity.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:26 PM on February 18, 2011


I have no idea what it is called but it is tube of heavy, clear plastic with the ends sealed together to make a loop with a liquid that moves about as you squeeze the toy. If you don't what I am talking about, hopefully someone else will. I got one at an aquarium that had little fish in the liquid. Only warning is that if you squeeze REALLY hard, it will break the liquid might stain. Although I guess would be the hospital's problem.

Another thought might be a set of large plastic paper clips linked together.

Stress balls filled with sand.

Magnets would be great for fiddling but bad for a hospital room, I would think.
posted by metahawk at 7:27 PM on February 18, 2011


Lego
posted by The World Famous at 7:28 PM on February 18, 2011


To help you with your search, try googling "fidget(s)." There are a lot of things available marketed to kids with sensory processing difficulties and/or autism that may be good fits for your relative.
posted by deadcrow at 7:36 PM on February 18, 2011


I have no idea what it is called but it is tube of heavy, clear plastic with the ends sealed together to make a loop with a liquid that moves about as you squeeze the toy.

The term seems to be "water wiggler" or "water wiggly."
posted by jedicus at 7:55 PM on February 18, 2011


Baby rattles and grasping toys:
Haba wooden Trix toy
Haba wooden Triangle toy

colored wooden beads strung with elastic
wooden snake with segments connected by elastic
Skwish grasping toy
Tangle grasping toy (loop with rotating parts, each segment has different texture - this company has several others in the same series, click on the "Tangle" name to see them)

Jacob's ladder toy
plastic bendy animals
wooden nuts and bolts set
toy car

abacus
etch a sketch
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:57 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]




Find It Discovery Tubes are fun to play with, I have seen them in lots of medical waiting rooms.
posted by jennstra at 8:08 PM on February 18, 2011


If this is an older person who might be insulted or confused if you gave him a baby toy, maybe a grip exerciser would be more acceptable.
posted by contraption at 8:08 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


A Rosary or perhaps Mala beads?
posted by at the crossroads at 8:14 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


(I mention the baby rattles only because it might be a useful search term. The ones I linked are not baby-ish looking, for the most part they are primary colors and could just as well be adult fidget toys. But certainly don't give your relative something that will be insulting!)
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:22 PM on February 18, 2011


Therapy dog sessions.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:31 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


A Slinky!
posted by SisterHavana at 8:39 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is generally acceptable to push the buttons on your hospital bed - if he's also trying to have a little control over his personal environment. He can lift up the head, the feet, the whole bed. Hopefully he has nice nurses who won't be douchey about this.
posted by serazin at 8:55 PM on February 18, 2011


Another search term is "office desk toys". Here's a link to some, and some more.
posted by CathyG at 9:12 PM on February 18, 2011


If he's religious at all, maybe some prayer beads?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:46 PM on February 18, 2011


You could also ask the nurse for an 'incentive spirometer'. They are useful for maintaining lung function when patients are confined to bed. Some people hate these things, but some find them a practical way to 'exercise' and to kill a little time when they are unable to move around much.
posted by marsha56 at 9:54 PM on February 18, 2011


Wheel-o! My dad loved playing with it after his stroke. Mindless but soothing.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:08 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plasticine?
posted by emeiji at 11:15 PM on February 18, 2011


All great answers, everyone, thanks so much. He is older and having sensory perception issues, so the mindlees yet soothing options are ideal.
posted by jeremias at 4:28 AM on February 19, 2011


A Gripmaster is enjoyable to play with. I have the blue one with light tension which is not difficult to squeeze, but if he is frail you could go with the yellow extra-light.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:20 AM on February 19, 2011


I second buckyball-like magnets, but warn against actual buckyballs. We went through three sets and each began losing their coating within a couple weeks, it would get all over your hands when playing with them. We switched to Zen Magnets after that and they seem to hold up better. Zen Magnets

Another thought, these magnets are very powerful, I would make sure there is no magnetically sensitive equipment in the room.
posted by miscbuff at 6:56 AM on February 19, 2011


I bought a sensory marble maze for my child when he was having small motor issues, and it continues to interest him now (after much improvement thanks to his love of Legos) as a tactile stim item.
posted by iscatter at 7:08 AM on February 19, 2011


When I was immobile in a hospital bed, I really enjoyed having a Space Tube to amuse myself with. Add the kaleidoscope for another level of fun. Also makes a good improvised button-poking device and magic wand.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:34 AM on February 19, 2011


We sometimes keep patients busy folding stacks of washcloths, an easy/mindless activity that keeps the hands busy. A nurse should be able to supply some. If they have the mental ability to use the incentive spirometer though, that would be a great way to keep them busy and prevent pneumonia.
posted by missanissa at 5:50 PM on February 19, 2011


At my house, we have a Ball of Whacks, and even people who aren't fidgeters love fidgeting with it.
posted by rosa at 9:40 AM on February 20, 2011


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