Audio-visual art in Intensive Care


Improving Quality of Life and Survival Chances at the Intensive Care Unit in Rabin Medical Center

Art as a Therapeutic Tool in Intensive Care

The General Intensive Care Unit – Doing its upmost to save lives

The General Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Rabin Medical Center provides the optimum intensive medical and nursing care for critically ill pateints who require life support services, It is headed by Prof. Pierre Singer, an expert in the care of the critically ill 

 The average age of the ICU patient at RMC is 55 years old and more than 85% will survive this difficult period.  Most of the critically ill patients are not only struggling for their life but should also be prepared to overcome rehabilitation in the best possible condition. There is therefore vital need to prepare them for a successful rehabilitation


ICU - A High-Tech Treatment Environment 
The hospital rooms in the ICU include complex medical equipment, technical aids and life-saving tools. The rooms are fully lit and the patients are attached to various life support and monitoring apparatus, with the typical noises they emit. Together with this, due to medical limitations, visiting hours of the patient in ICU are limited and he remains by himself for many hours without stimulation.

This cold, estranged and technical environment can feel threatening and stressful to the patients, who are already undergoing traumatizing hospital experiences and major stress due to illness.


 Environmental Design for Improving Medical Outcomes
There is a growing awareness internationally among healthcare administrators and medical professionals of the need to create hospital environments that also have supportive characteristics to help patients cope with the stress that accompanies illness (Ulrich, 1991). There is mounting scientific evidence that environmental characteristics influence patient health outcomes. Many studies have shown that well-designed environments can, for instance, reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and lessen pain


Art as a Treatment Tool in the Intensive Care Environment

The patients in the ICU are in a stressful environment and although they may be passive they are undergoing both physical and emotional trauma. Unfortunately there is no possibility to stimulate them day and night and they spend most of the time they are conscious or sem-conscious watching the wall in front of them or the ceiling.

Professional literature describes the importance of including features in the hospital environment such as art, music and nature that can:

  • Calm patients and reduce stress

  • Strengthen coping resources and healthful process

  • Improve patients’ quality of life during their stay in the ICU

  • Contribute to a quicker rehabilitation process by preventing depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, muscular atrophy and prolonged stay in hospitals  

Studies of patient reactions to different types of art have yielded evidence of especially positive influences to nature, as well as music and sounds. The great majority of patients prefer representational art depicting serene, open natural environments with scattered trees and non-turbulent water features.

Those same patients could take advantage of visual and audio stimulations in order to improve their chances of recuperation and rehabilitation. 

Audio-visual Art in Intensive Care at Rabin Medical Center

The patients in the ICU are alone for hours, mostly lying watching the ceiling, without any kind of stimulation. We propose to change this situation by adding visual and audio stimulation in the ICU rooms that will let the patients’ minds travel and escape from the boundaries of the hospital walls.

The Audio-visual project in Intensive Care will provide critically ill patients with a soothing and healing environment through the use of technological means and especially designed software, based on research in the field.

This project includes the screening of video art on large floor-to-ceiling screens in the ICU patient rooms showing specially designed nature films, together with the playing of calming nature sounds. This art is specially designed voluntarily by the artist Muriel Celinger, a specialist in audio-visual communications including video, sounds and 3D motion.

We have just completed the pilot of this program, which includes equipping one ICU room with the necessary equipment and software with, at this point, five different audio-visual displays. Three of these movies were specially planned for unconscious and semi-conscious patients, and two encourage movement for fully conscious patients.

The pilot has been received with great enthusiasm by patients, staff and family members. We now propose to expand this program to include an additional 16 rooms.

Furthermore, we plan to develop additional software including:

  • Interactive software to enable patient participation

  • Alternative stimulation, with music emitted from both sides of the patient alternatively 

The cost of the audiovisual displaying equipment per bed is $4,000
Total cost of the project including 16 beds and development of software is $100,000
Help us to provide patients in Intensive Care with a healing environment!