This Tablet Game Reduces Anxiety in Patients

This Tablet Game Reduces Anxiety in Patients

For children going to surgery, the anesthesia mask can be scary. A new video game is here to help.
Abby Hess helps a patient play the game she invented to reduce pre-surgery stress.

Abby Hess, a doctor of nursing practice and researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, has been with countless patients before surgery. Whether the procedure is major or minor, there’s never a day a child doesn’t experience anxiety before putting on an anesthesia mask. “High anxiety before surgery is associated with negative outcomes after surgery,” Hess says. “I asked myself, ‘How can we make this better?’”

She invented a video game that transforms a scary anesthesia mask into a game controller. As the child breathes in and out, they win different challenges in the animal-themed world of the game. The child learns how to play the game in a preoperative area and is offered the opportunity to play the final level when they go to the operating room to fall asleep for surgery. The product, called EZ Induction, is used in routine clinical practice at Cincinnati Children’s, and LittleSeed Calming Technologies has licensed the right to market the product to other hospitals.

Inspiration. “Kids easily engage with video games, and we know from research that breathing into the mask and getting comfortable with it is important. What if we could combine these things to improve the experience?”

From fear to fun. “The game shifts the focus from something scary to something that’s calming and fun. It easily engages kids, teaches them to breathe calmly, and lets them know what to expect when they go back to the operating room.”

Peace of mind. “Seeing their child engage with the game helps parents feel at ease and provides them with a novel way to coach their child during the process.”

Read the Latest Issue of Children's Hospitals Today

Spring 2024 Children's Hospitals Today

Don't miss the latest industry news, insights and ideas.