VA Patients’ Escape Room Adventure

Categories: Highlights, Support Our Troops

Freedom Alliance invited 16 patients and staff from the Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Inpatient Program (PTRIP) to an immersive adventure like no other: Escape Room RVA.

PTRIP is a unit of the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Hospital in Richmond, Virginia—one of only five in the country—that takes in both active-duty and retired military service members after severe and diverse injuries, enabling the patient to rehabilitate and transition back to a normal routine after their medical trauma.

A veteran may stay in PTRIP for one month, or as long as a year, and so we meet new patients and say good-bye to others with every event we do for them. But Freedom Alliance’s relationship with the program therapists is long-running.

PTRIP staff are committed to seeing their patients heal physically, but the therapy also instills the confidence and personal stamina these veterans need to function outside the hospital when treatment is finished. Freedom Alliance helps achieve this goal by organizing activities that encourage their “transitional” rehabilitation.

On June 20, we were pleased to see three familiar faces from the previous month’s outing, which was river rafting. For this next event, we had scheduled a different sort of team-building challenge.

Escape Room RVA (RVA being an acronym for Richmond, Virginia), part of Ravenchase Adventures, offers several indoor game rooms, in which a player must try to solve interactive puzzles and decode messages in order to escape within a certain time limit. The creators customize the game for the client, and they intentionally make the rooms difficult to solve.

While enjoying some pre-game ice cream in the waiting room, our group was debriefed as to their mission. Five would be sent to (Edgar Allan) Poe’s Chamber, and the rest to the Super Villain Room.

In the former room, participants decipher clues left by the famous poet to uncover a hidden treasure; in the latter, the team infiltrates the lair of Gotham’s bad guys to recover the missing Commissioner Gordon.

While in the rooms, if players required help from the staff, they had to dance. The better the dancing, the better the help!

Freedom Alliance’s on-site host was pleased to report afterward that both teams cracked the codes “with minimal dancing required.”

This was an unusual but fun way to get the patients working together and problem-solving to reach a goal. Over a well-earned lunch at Talley’s Meat & Three rotisserie restaurant, the players shared their “escape” experiences and tried to figure out which room was trickier.

One of the PTRIP patients, who had also rafted with us, will be medically retired soon. When Rob leaves Richmond, he wants to build a retreat center on his family’s land, where others can experience freedom and independence … which is exactly what he said Freedom Alliance events do for him.

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