The Huffington Post today reports on a new survey that has found that playing with an iPad mini before going under anaesthesia could help to calm a child down more than taking a sedative would.
“Anxiety is a major source of concern for children going to the hospital for anything, but especially for surgery and it’s also a major source of dissatisfaction for their parents,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Samuel C. Seiden.
“That whole process of leaving parents or having someone put a mask over your face can be a very traumatic experience.”
“That’s why we spent a lot of time thinking about how we could make this less-anxiety-provoking for children,” he continued.
Seiden said that may hospitals have experimented with using music, videos and games to help distract and calm children before an operation.
In this particular study, which is published in Paediatric Anaesthesia, children were given either oral midazolam syrup, which is a valium-like sedative, or an iPad mini, prior to having surgery.
The researchers found that children aged 1-11 who played with the iPad mini had a 9-point decrease in anxiety (on a 100 scale) when separated from their parents, in comparison to the children who had taken the sedative. For children aged 2-11, the decrease in anxiety was 14 points.
The iPad mini group also had a shorter stay in the recovery room, with 87 minutes for the iPad mini group and 111 minutes for the midazolam group.
Elsewhere, Alisa McQueen, assistant professor of paediatrics and director of the paediatric emergency medicine fellowship program at The University of Chicago, said that she had seen how a baby was calmed by an app playing womb sounds when being given a lumbar puncture. McQueen is also currently conducting research into how iPads can be used to distract children in ER.