EZ Induction Video Game Helps Lower Anxiety of Kids on Anesthesia Masks

Helping children be calm.
Helping children be calm. Cincinnati Children's

A nurse practitioner at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital has developed a breathing-controlled video game that aims to help children relax when the anesthesia mask is being put on to prepare them for surgery. Called EZ Induction, this game features cartoon animals which children can move by simply breathing into a mask. This innovation has been licensed to LittleSeed Calming Technologies LLC, which announced plans to launch the app this year.

The game was the brainchild of Abby Hess, a doctor of nursing practice at Cincinnati Children's. As part of the Department of Anesthesia, she has worked closely with kids, particularly those who are about to undergo surgery. According to Hess, thousands of children at Cincinnati Children's, along with millions around the US, are given anesthesia for surgery, which includes medical and dental procedures.

For children 10 years old or younger, anesthesia is typically administered through a mask. However, despite all efforts both medical professionals and parents do to prepare the child, a lot of kids continue and even resist putting on the anesthesia mask. This entire experience is stressful for everyone from the medical staff and parents to kids themselves. Research also showed that having high anxiety before surgery is usually associated with poorer outcomes post-surgery.

It was after seeing children in distress during this phase of the pre-surgery process that Hess revealed that she wanted to find a way for kids to feel calmer in this clearly "high-anxiety moment." With EZ Induction, Hess managed to transform what for many children is a scary anesthesia mask into a really fun game controller. The app brings them to an engaging animal-themed world where they can win challenges by putting on the mask and breathing in and out. Not only does the child learn how to play in a preoperative area but is also given the chance to play the final level when they are brought to the operating room to fall asleep for the surgery.

Hess shared that what the game does is to change the focus of something that's scary to something fun and calming. She added that it can engage kids easily while teaching them to breathe calmly and letting them know what they should expect when they're back in the operating room.

What did you think about this new app?

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