IU Health Arnett Hospital

The gift of distraction comforts pediatric patients

We are IU Health

January 31, 2019

Being in the hospital can be stressful for patients and their loved ones. A trip to the emergency department or inpatient stay may include a number of evaluations, tests and procedures. For our youngest patients, fears and discomfort can be hard to communicate. They may be frightened by unfamiliar caregivers, nervous about tests, have difficulty sitting still, or be overwhelmed by unfamiliar sounds and smells. One way Indiana University Health Arnett Hospital is trying to help children cope with their stay is by bringing joy to the bedside while, distracting pediatric patients.

Introducing the VECTA is a mobile multi-sensory station that was created to help calm children’s anxiety in stressful situations. The VECTA targets multiple senses with music, lights, a bubble column, aromatherapy, projector and fiber optic tubes.

IU Health Arnett Hospital introduced the VECTA in late 2018 and it has already made a positive impact on patients, parents and team members alike.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Abbigayle came to the IU Health Arnett Hospital Emergency Department for treatment, an emotional experience, especially for a child. The VECTA may just look like lights and bubbles, but Abbigayle’s face says it all. Her hospital experience was completely changed because of the VECTA.

The VECTA has different patterns to the bubbles – ranging from quick, small bursts to a slower flow, like a lava lamp. Kids can hold a controller to stop and start the bubbles with a push of a button, as well as choose which colors to display.

“We enjoy using it with our patients; it is a relaxing distraction from the stressful medical environment. Children are only given so much control in the hospital, and by providing opportunities for choice and play we can provide a sense of control and normalcy that children need,” says Olivia Rauschenbach, IU Health Arnett Child Life Specialist.

As a child life specialist, Rauschenbach provides hospital education and preparation for pediatric patients and their families. This extra support helps children understand their hospital experience and the why behind procedures that are occurring.

Distractions can play an important role in reducing children’s perceived pain and anxiety. Evidence-based research shows that multi-sensory environments can promote mental and physical relaxation, provide comfort from pain and promote a sense of control and safety.

“We are thrilled to have acquired another tool that will help us provide the best care for our pediatric patients. The feedback we have received from patients and parents has been overwhelmingly positive.” Rauschenbach shared.

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