Kristy Boyd, a recreational therapist on 7 West and 7 East, uses games to stimulate patients' thinking, enjoyment of life and problem-solving skills.
Kristy Boyd, a recreational therapist on 7 West and 7 East, uses games to stimulate patients' thinking, enjoyment of life and problem-solving skills.
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People of the U: Kristy Boyd

Published on Tuesday, November 19, 2019

By: Ruth Cummins

Kristy Boyd’s patients struggle with some of life’s most trying issues: Drug and alcohol dependency. Anxiety and depression. Mental health challenges that threaten their quality of life.

As a recreational therapist, Boyd strives to give them the stimulation they need to cope. “Some are going through some really tough times,” said Boyd, who came to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in August but has been in her profession for nine years.

The Medical Center houses an inpatient behavioral health unit that uses an interdisciplinary approach to improving the lifelong mental health of patients. In addition to treatment for general psychiatric inpatients, UMMC also has a separate, specialized inpatient neurobehavioral unit. This combined medical-psychiatric unit is uniquely designed to provide comprehensive medical and psychiatric care.

Working with general adult psychiatric patients on 7 East and 7 West, Boyd leads activities in their group rooms. It might be Sequence, a game of strategy using playing cards and a game board in which players build sequences of cards and block their opponents from doing the same. Sometimes, it’s Pictionary, a charades-inspired, word-guessing game that requires players to draw pictures.

“We have arts and crafts projects so that patients can be creative,” she said. “My goal is to help them keep stimulated – mentally, emotionally and even physically. We do group entertainment, and we try to get patients to interact with each other and talk to each other. Sometimes, it helps to hear another person’s story.”

In her short time so far at the Medical Center, Boyd “is really engaging our patients, and she listens to them,” said Joey Crain, nurse manager for adult inpatient psychiatry.

“She brings creative and original ideas to our patients, one being chair aerobics. The patients have commented that they have more things to do and are more engaged when she is working with them.”

What her patients struggle with outside of the hospital can rob them of “the sense of wanting to do things that previously made them happy and relieved their stress,” Boyd said. “I ask them what they like to do, and then reintroduce those activities. I want them to pick up their hobbies again, and to do things for themselves.”

During a stay that averages about a week, patients work to get back on track, and that can increase their self-esteem, Boyd said. “It gets them back to wanting to do things versus laying in the bed. We want them to be proactive and ready to handle situations.”

When she’s not at the Medical Center, Boyd does plenty of cooking and baking. “My husband would say that my jambalaya is off the chain,” she joked.

Boyd loves to work out, and having a toddler around the house makes it easy. “They never stop moving,” she laughed.

Her favorite part of recreational therapy is simple. “I like interacting with the patients,” she said. “They have different personalities, and it’s always interesting.”

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