Making Health with Legos

Making Health with Legos

By Victor Ty

Senior Staff Registered Nurse at Radiation Oncology Dept

Maimonides Cancer Center - ‎Maimonides Medical Center

As nurses we strive to be able to deliver safe and efficient care every day. Our patients deserve the utmost attention throughout the most vulnerable times of their lives. After spending more than two decades in the fashion industry developing software systems, textile design and manufacturing, I found myself wanting to do more, so I went back to school to study nursing. I just celebrated my fourth year as a radiation oncology nurse at Maimonides Cancer Center, the only comprehensive cancer center in Brooklyn, NY.

In healthcare facilities throughout the country, nurses are busy engaging their patients in their care. In nursing school, it is emphasized that communication is paramount. It facilitates understanding, develop rapport and more importantly it can be utilized to empower patients to be involved with their health.

I am a radiation oncology nurse and my main jobs are symptom management and teaching. There are a slew of challenges in delivering effective care. Language barriers is one of them. I found myself taking care of a young teenager diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Autism Spectrum Disorder. He had very limited speech and was only able to understand some language. I needed to do a teaching regarding his radiation treatment so I decided to modify my teaching technique to something that wouldI have been designing and playing with LEGO bricks for 40 years, so I decided to design and build a working model of a linear accelerator, the same machine that will deliver radiation in the form of electrons to treat his cancer. I cannot begin to tell you how elated I was when I brought my LEGO creation into the exam room, there were no words needed. His face lit up as he immediately immersed himself and started manipulating the moving parts. I went on to explain his treatment to him as he was playing and learning from the model.

Since this very fulfilling experience, I have shared the linear accelerator model with my wife, who is also a radiation oncology nurse at Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone, and she has also began using it as a teaching tool for her pediatric patients garnering the same reaction from the patients.