Surgery can be a scary thing no matter how old you are, but for children, it can be daunting.
Doctors know one of the scariest parts for children is being wheeled away from their parents as they head into the operating room.
It usually requires a sedating drug, but one hospital has found an even more effective way to calm them: video games.
An iPad can replace anti-anxiety drugs when it comes to prepping children for surgery.
Giovanny Guillen is about to have a tonsillectomy. During what can often be a nervous time his doctor hands the 8-year-old an iPad full of games.
And that’s all Giovanny needed to push his anxiety to the back of his mind.
“Wow. You have so many games,” said Giovanny.
“If he’s on his iPad or tablet or something like that, he’ll be gone for hours,” said Mario Guillen, Giovanny’s Brother.
“I think the great thing about tablets is that they’re so intuitive that even infants who’ve never seen a tablet before can pick up something and find a game that’s distracting and interactive and use it from the very beginning,” said Dr. Samuel Seiden, a Pediatric Anesthesiologist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Before the iPad, children would first get a sedation drug to keep them calm, maybe even a clown doctor to distract them. But in a study of patients ages one to 11, Doctor Seiden found a tablet reduced anxiety by nine points compared to a drug.
“What we saw using this technique was certainly the kids were calmer going to sleep, and it seems that they also woke up better as well,” said Seiden.
Since children aren’t getting the additional sedating drug,Seiden said their recovery time is also a lot faster because they’re not as groggy when they wake. He believes further research will show that less sedation may ease some of the post-operative side effects, such as sleep disorders, night terrors and aggressiveness that some patients exhibit.