Videogames–and child surgeryBy HSC Staff Writer • Published: January 27th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
Normally kids undergoing surgery are given tranquilizers to relax them beforehand. They then receive anesthesia throughout the operation. Anesthesiologists say this can be a difficult process. Some parents don’t always want their kids to take sedatives and the anesthesia can take several minutes to begin working, a long time for a young person to hold still.
So, noting how absorbed children are with video games, some experts decided to introduce them into the operating room as a way of distracting kids before they go under the knife. The results were positive. And a formal study done by researchers at a New Jersey hospital found that hand-held devices can reduce kids’ anxiety even MORE effectively than drugs or a parent’s hand.
An anesthesiologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was so inspired by similar observations that he’s working with an engineering design company to develop a headset that combines an entertainment system with a snorkel-like anesthesia mask. Its colorful, smooth form is modeled after kids’ candy, and provides a hook-up for handheld music or video devices. The product is years away from use in hospitals. But medical experts are already attesting to the power of distraction as a preoperative prescription for children.