4/23/18

Timely tech inspires healing, reduces children’s fears

It takes just three minutes for radiology techs to get helpful pictures of injured or ill children to guide important next steps in care.

However, even 180 seconds can seem like an eternity for a scared child.

Kelly Oppe, director of Radiology, was heartbroken some children needed sedation to keep them still during the CT scans.

Her team worked with Carle Center for Philanthropy to purchase a child–friendly projector for the Emergency Department CT scanner, putting kids in control during unnerving situations.

Working closely with Child Life, both inpatient and outpatient pediatric patients will benefit from the new technology fueled by philanthropic donations.

“The hospital can be scary and the machine is intimidating. These images help distract and calm kids, and even some adults,” she said.

Carle is the first in the region to deploy this creative solution.

Patients who are fearful of tight spaces or in an altered mental state benefit from the relaxation and distraction the projector provides.

Popular scenes and animations occupy children ages 1 through 13, helping keep their mind and bodies from wandering.

“It’s like a baby mobile circling above a crib,” Oppe said.

Studies show reducing patient stress levels improves recovery time and overall satisfaction while lowering health care costs.

Shifting the focus from the pain to the images get the procedure done more quickly and allows for the best chance for clear images of an affected area.

“It transforms a cold, stark area hospital environment into one that supports parents and children receiving tests and treatment,” Oppe said.

Keeping a young child still can be a challenge on the best of days but even more so when they are scared or hurting. With a few finger touches, children gain the power to make choices: girl or boy, beach or field, castle or pirate ship.

Ashley DeGlopper, Child Life Specialist said technology allows children to make some choices in an environment where they typically have very little control. It’s less threatening and helps to normalize the hospital environment.

Radiology technologists trained on the equipment shortly after installation to provide relief for the nearly 600 pediatric patients treated annually.

Children need CT scans for variety of ailments including falling from a significant height, hitting their head, severe belly pain and breathing difficulties.

“There are host of benefits, but decreasing the need for sedation and cost savings were the main motivations,” Oppe said.

DeGlopper said Child Life specialists welcome this unique solution to a complex experience.

“The opportunity to provide diversion from feelings of anxiousness will be amazing for patients and families,” she said.