DEVICE DISTRACTION: Technology Eases Patients

Hospitals can be scary and confusing for kids battling a disease that requires long doctor visits and multiple medical procedures. But, technology is making it easier for young patients.

Endless entertainment is at Bailey Carson’s fingertips. She says, “Games, watching T.V.” The eight year-old is battling leukemia for the second time and likes to keep an iPad by her side.

Child Life Specialist Kathy O’Connor asks, “It helps pass the time, the long days you’re here?” Carson replies, “Yes it does.”

O’Connor is a Child Life Specialist at Blank Children’s Hospital. She helps patients like Bailey deal with scary medical procedures. And, the iPad is a high-tech way of getting the job done. O’Connor says, “It’s a great distraction tool for children to focus on something instead of what’s happening. We can pull up something musical or a favorite T.V. show or an interactive game to get them involved in that and take their mind off of what’s happening.”

The iPads aren’t just for fun and games. The Child Life Specialists also use the devices for education. O’Connor says, “We have videos on here, if a child is going to be admitted from the clinic, we can show them what the play room looks like.”

O’Connor says they also show kids pictures and videos of medical procedures and equipment, like an MRI machine. O’Connor says, “We can use this and talk about how the bed moves in and out of the machine and the noises the machine makes and how nothing touches them or will hurt them.”

O’Connor says the Child Life Department is able to use iPads because of donations. A group gave the first device a few years ago. Then, others started taking notice.

Katelyn Cinnamon says, “They only had one iPad that went back and forth between the floor and the clinic. And, so the kids didn’t always get to play with it, or they didn’t get very much time with it.”

Cinnamon is a Senior at Valley High School and raised money to buy six for kids to use while they’re at Blank’s Pediatric Oncology Clinic. She says, “I just think they’re incredibly inspiring, and I love being around them.”

The Child Life Department now has about fifteen of the donated devices, helping kids like Bailey take time out from cancer with a modern day distraction.

Bailey also uses her iPad to Skype with her class when she’s in the hospital. And, the Child Life Specialists say they’re always finding new ways to use the technology.

As for Katelyn, she’s raised $12,000 to buy the iPads and help send cancer patients to camp. Her volunteer efforts earned her the Prudential Spirit of Community award. She won $1,000 for being a state honoree. She’ll travel to Washington D.C. next month for an awards ceremony where she could win additional money and grants to donate to a charity of her choice. You can click here to find out more about her project.

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