Rambam Uses Puppets and Legos to Reduce Pain in Children
Bones made from cotton swabs, MRI machines made from Legos, and a journey to the intestines using a robot – this is how children who come to Rambam Health Care Campus are taught about the medical processes they are about to undergo, reducing their anxiety levels.
Visiting the hospital is usually an unpleasant experience, and sometimes, it’s even a little scary – especially for children. In recent years, as part of the “pain-free hospital” concept in Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital at Rambam Health Care Campus, “unusual” informational aids have become an integral part of the preparation for various pediatric medical procedures. Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital recently hosted a seminar on the subject, as the staff from the BRACHA Educational Center, which operates the classrooms in the hospital, shared the knowledge and experience they have accumulated in the field to educational bodies from all over the country.
Small models of the human brain made from plaster, decorated medical masks, colorful confetti-filled infusions, models of hand bones crafted from cotton swabs, and MRI machines constructed from Legos are just a small sample of what was on display during the seminar. The event, which was titled “Experiential and Challenging Learning – Mediating Medical Processes for the Hospitalized Child”, convened educators, administrators, and teaching staffs operating in various hospitals around the country where children are hospitalized in various departments. Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital has become a center of excellence in the field, with rich experience and out-of-the-box thinking regarding the way in which it explains to patients what they will experience.
“A child comes to the hospital to undergo a specific procedure: gastro, neurosurgery, radiation therapy, etc.,” explains Elana Levi, director of the BRACHA Educational Center. “He comes full of fears and concerns, and our job as an educational-therapeutic team is to try to bring the child to a place where anxiety levels will decrease and that he knows what he will go through. Work done in the field proves how fear increases pain. Here at Rambam, we have created tailor-made programs designed to cope with this aspect, and help children go through this experience in the most pleasant way possible.”
During the experiential meeting held at the seminar, the BRACHA Educational Center at Rambam showed attendees how to deal with pediatric medical processes in the areas of gastro, MRIs, neurosurgery, radiation therapy preparation, dental health, and surgery, as well as routine hospital care guidelines in different departments. Together with particularly creative models made by hand, the use of more advanced aids such as robotics, apps, digital photography, and animation were also demonstrated. The practices at Rambam’s children’s hospital attracted a great deal of interest from the attendees, who have received a glimpse of other projects taking place within the BRACHA Educational Center, including collaborations with the Israel Space Agency, research areas for young people, and joint projects with schools in the community.
“The children who come to us are not in the best state of mind,” says Tamar Shochat, the administrator at Ruth’s Rappaport Children Hospital. “It is very difficult and painful for them, and not everyone has the necessary mental resilience and support. This is where we enter the picture. We comfort the children and help them, through knowledge transfer and explanations. We simplify the process and help the children to understand it, helping them to deal with fear and reduce their levels of anxiety. In this case – knowledge is power.”
In the photo: The “Mediation for Medical Processes for Children” seminar held at Rambam
Photography: Rambam Health Care Campu