Children’s Pain Captured in Art

Pain Campaign .jpg

Guest Blogger, Standish Foundation for Child & Family Centered Healthcare

Artwork is a powerful therapeutic tool to help children and caregivers express their emotions about their medical experiences. Children often have a difficult time verbalizing feelings associated with pain and the modality of art provides them the opportunity to explore, create and gain mastery.

We are currently working on a project to help medical team members globally have a deeper understanding of pain and the impact that it has on children and families. We provide them with education and training that involves a patient and family-centered care approach. These coping strategies decrease trauma, provide children with a sense of control and have a positive outcome for everyone involved.

We need your help to spread awareness of pediatric pain management, so we are seeking two different types of artwork from kids and caregivers. One is about their perception of pain and the other is about how they feel after a coping strategy was used, such as medical play, comfort position, distraction tool, pharmaceutical relief, bravery reward or something similar.

If you would like to submit an image of artwork from your kids, yourself or from your patients (with consent), please email them to

Thanks so much for all your support!

Taking Medical Play to a new level with Parker, Your Augmented Reality Bear

Seedling's Parker the Bear.jpg

We just took medical play to another level with Seedling’s Parker, Your Augmented Reality Bear. Child life specialists use medical play every day to prepare kids for procedures, help them process their experiences and just explore the materials in a non-threatening way.

We have also been adapting our coping techniques with the advancements in technology, by using tablets and virtual reality goggles to distract kids during painful procedures.

Parker is now helping us combine these two modalities together and enhance the therapeutic experience for young patients.

My kids and I had the opportunity to play with Parker and we loved him. Coming from a child life specialist’s perspective, I thought that the app’s games and activities were engaging for young kids (2-8 years old) and that the augmented reality was very unique.

There were only four medical play tools, a stethoscope, spoon, medicine tube and thermometer. I would have loved to have seen more, including a syringe or injection device. I also thought about infection control with the plush teddy bear and felt body outline. I know that many specialists use cloth patient puppets and follow hospital guidelines by using disinfecting wipes, so that could be an option for Parker. It may also be machine washed. The felt body outline could probably be coated with a laminate, to wipe down between uses.

Parker, Your Augmented Reality Bear

More about Parker:

Seedling, the LA-based startup with a mission to reimagine play, has today unveiled Parker: the world’s first augmented reality (AR) teddy bear. Parker comes to life when used with an iPad or iPhone and the accompanying free Parker App, which allows kids to have an immersive experience through which they learn empathy, problem solving and open-ended play skills, all while developing digital literacy. Parker is immediately available exclusively at and in Apple stores in select countries.

Parker is a classic teddy bear made extraordinary through the magic of Augmented Reality. Parker the bear is all plush and fluff —no batteries, no cameras, no Wi-Fi. Parker is just like the teddy bears we grew up with; soft, squeezable and perfect for pretend play. Add an iPhone or iPad and use the app to interact with Parker and the world of make believe comes to life.

Parker offers an engaging open-ended experience for children ages three and up. By using the app and your iPad or iPhone to interact with Parker and the enclosed tools, caregiving is transformed into an interactive experience. The more you play with and care for Parker, the more magical your world becomes as Parker’s Happiness FactorTM grows. Surprises and additional play features are revealed, including interactive games to play and puzzles to solve.

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The Gaming Treatment: Pediatric patients use technology-based games to manage stress

The Gaming Treatment Pediatric patients use technology-based games to manage stress

Guest Blogger: Amanda Pope, Director of Marketing & PLAY for Good, AFTER-MOUSE.COM

Today’s methods of play have expanded with the introduction and adoption of technology. While schoolyard pick-up games and traditional board games are the icon images of children playing, the reality is that a staggering 91% of children between the ages of 2 and 17 now play technology-based games. Despite this rapid adoption, there is still little guidance on how to effectively harness technology-based play for therapy and healing.

Most guidance for children’s interaction with technology is based on “screen time,” the amount of time a child should spend looking at a digital screen. Technology, however, has progressed beyond the linear, sedentary relationship between child and screen. Child Life and other psychological professionals working with medically ill children use play methods to help pediatric patients cope with stress and process difficult situations.

Whether its addressing short-term boredom or managing anxiety during on-going treatment, providing pediatric patients with psychological support is critical for their long-term health and well-being. With 15 multi-player, multi-touch games designed for children, AFTER-MOUSE.COM’s PLAY for Good initiative is working with children’s health and well-being organizations, including Ronald McDonald House Charity of Alabama, Ronald McDonald House of Tampa Bay, and UMass Memorial Medical Center, among many others, to bring the empowering and healing benefits of collaborative play to children with the PLAY touch table.

Emerging data is beginning to organize technology-based games into recognized therapeutic and healing categories. Child’s Play Charity, in collaboration with EEDAR, developed the following recommendation for selecting technology-based games to address specific pediatric patient conditions:

Patient Condition Recommended Type of Technology Game Play
Pain Easy-to-learn game mechanics and rewarding, short game sessions – games that can engage a player’s mind and body is especially effective for pain management.
Boredom (Short-Term Stay) Experiences that are smaller in scope and can

be played quickly – games that are designed to be replayed many times over, with rules that are easy to understand but

difficult to master.

Boredom (Long-Term Stay) Emphasize story and have more nuanced mechanics that may take a while for players to fully understand – games designed to hold a player’s attention over many play sessions.
Anxiety/Hyperactivity Avoid the high-intensity play – games that focus on gentler experiences that engage a player’s critical thinking skills and creativity.
Sadness Rewarding gameplay and pleasant overall atmosphere – games featuring relatable, charming characters and forgiving difficulty options to keep players from becoming discouraged.
Cognitive Impairment Simplified mechanics – games that place an emphasis on play and experimentation as opposed to winning or losing.

The potential of technology-based games to positively impact children’s mental health during stressful and uncomfortable medical procedures adds to the toolkit of available tactics for professionals in the field of child psychology. Utilizing familiar play constructs, these games offer fun, collaborative interactions that support healing and well-being to address children’s mental wealth while they are undergoing treatment for their physical health.

To learn more check out

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