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Apple iPad being used for healing at St. Louis Children's Hospital

9:52 PM, Jun 7, 2010   |    comments
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By: Kay Quinn

KSDK -- It's the latest tech rage: Apple's iPad.

You see the tablet computers being used in coffee shops and airports.

Now, the iPad is now part of the prescription for healing at a local hospital.

11 year old Brittany Butts came to St. Louis Children's Hospital as she has many times before.

"Almost every night I was screaming in pain," says Brittany Butts, who is living with sickle cell anemia.

When doctors got her sickle cell disease under control, this tween made one of her many trips to the playroom, where something other than the Wii caught her eye.

"It's cool!" says Butts.

It's Apple's iPad. And at Children's Hospital, it's not just another toy.

It's part of the treatment, in three important ways.

"Education, the second is distraction and then the last one is preparation," says Tyler Robertson, a child life specialist at the hospital whose job it is to help patients manage stress during their stay.

Preparation for things like a trip to the operating room.

"We show them the doctors dressed up in their scrubs and hats," explains Robertson, as he demonstrates the applications on the ipad.

Distraction from the fact that you've been hooked up for two weeks to an I-V, like Brittany has. She's particularly enjoyed playing air hockey on the ipad during our visit.

"You can have fun with them," says Butts, "and it can take your mind off of your pain."

And education. The ipad was taken to the pediatric kidney dialysis unit where it was used to talk about kidney disease with a young patient.

And don't worry that this is another way technology is replacing say good old fashioned board games or arts and crafts. Workers at the hospital say this is just another way to connect with their patients.

"I think it gives us just a little more credibility that we know about technology and we're using it in the way they're using it as well," explains Robertson.

Finding the ipad in the hospital sure impressed this sixth grader.

"I can't believe it but they do have a lot of cool stuff!" says Butts.

Right now, St. Louis Children's Hospital has two ipads for patient use.

But the goal is to get 15, one for every child life specialist on staff.


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