‘Her whole face lit up:’ Hospital uses technology to calm kids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Any parent will tell you that when a doctor holds up a needle for the first time, at the least you've got a scared kid. At the worst, there's no limit on how loud they can scream.

That's way child life specialist Kara Retterath says the hospital is using tablets for more than just fun. In fact, child life specialists use iPads to prepare kids for procedures like MRIs, IV's, even surgery.

"During procedures, we can help kids cope a little bit better," Retterath said. When you walk in the room, kids automatically get excited and want to play on it or see what you have to offer, so I think it’s a really good ice breaker."

The move comes after a researchers in France found that the use of technology before procedures is as good as sedatives in relieving anxiety. The use of iPads is reducing kids' stress by distracting them from pain.

Child life specialist Kara Retterath tells FOX 17 it's her job to help patients and families cope with hospitalization, providing both therapeutic and emotional support.

Six-year-old Lily Gring is understandably worn out after waking up in the same confining walls for two days straight at Helen DeVos Children's hospital.

Kara Retterath (Left) Lily Gring (Right)

Kara Retterath (Left) Lily Gring (Right)

"She doesn’t know when she’s going home and doesn’t want to be here; none of us do," Lily's mom, Alicia, said, adding technology is changing this hospital stay.  "[iPads] get her mind off things."

Thanks to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, Lily is stress free. Her only worry now is figuring out how to play certain games.

"The iPads are working; she thinks they’re great, and that’s what matters," Alicia said. "As soon as the word iPad came up, the girl sat up: her whole face lit up."

Helen DeVos Children's Hospital currently has around 20 iPads, but with more than 200 beds in that hospital, they need of more.

kara-and-lilly-02All of the iPads were purchased with donations from the community. The Child Life team has a wish list, click here or here if you would like to help them out.  You can also get information about ways to help by calling  Amy Larson with the Spectrum Health Foundation at (616) 391-2321.

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