Special to the Journal
AUGUSTA, Ga. – When Joey Lewallen came to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia in September to have elbow surgery, the six-year-old got a glimpse at what his experience would be like through an e-book. With the touch of a finger, Joey was able to press an elevator button, walk through the hospital and take a wheelchair for a spin.
Developed by Georgia Regents University’s Educational and Collaborative Technology Department, the electronic book preps children for surgery on a platform that most are familiar with – the iPad.
“The book is designed with loads of interactive elements such as coloring books, puzzles and 3D animations, all designed to educate and entertain patients while making them feel a little less anxious about their hospital experience,” said Jeff Mastromonico, Associate Director of Educational and Collaborative Technology.
“We have traditionally prepared children for surgery with a scrapbook of photographs and kid-friendly terminology,” said Jami Wolfe, a Child Life Specialist in pediatric surgery at CHOG. “Repackaging those materials in an e-book has opened up a whole new element of child’s play, making it even easier for us to reassure our patients about surgery, which can be a scary time for them.”
It is estimated that a child life specialist will share the surgical preparation book close to 1,000 times a year at CHOG.
“Like adults, children want to feel in control of what’s happening to them, and the surgery e-book allows them to make some of the decisions, such as choosing the flavor of their anesthesia, or ‘sleepy medicine,’ and the color of their hospital gown,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe said the high-tech tool has been popular with patients and families. It’s drawn attention to the talents of the Educational and Collaborative Technology Department too.
“Right after we launched the surgery e-book, the pediatric allergy clinic asked us to create something to prepare kids for allergy testing,” said Mastromonico. “When kids get all the little pin pricks in their back during testing, they tend to want to scratch. So, we developed a game called Allergen Alert where kids get to go through and collect bandages, and do other fun tasks. We literally want to keep their hands busy and take their minds off the itching.”
Mastromonico said that the allergy app was generic enough to share with other hospitals to use with their patients, so the team published it and another game app they created about germs called EPI-GERMIS in Apple’s online store.
“Since we released the games, they’ve already gotten almost a thousand downloads worldwide in less than a month. It’s a great feeling to be able to create cutting-edge technology right here in Augusta that children across the world can use for free, not just when they are in the hospital, but any time they want to learn and have fun at the same time.”
The department also developed a patient education e-book and video game that teach Georgia Regents Medical Center patients about medication and compliance after a kidney transplant.
The Educational and Collaborative Technology Department at GRU includes a collection of designers and developers that create mobile, desktop and multimedia applications. Other services include IOS and Android development, web, multimedia, and game and instructional learning module designs. For more information, visit www.jagUware.com.
The 154-bed Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the second largest children’s hospital in the state, providing the highest level of pediatric critical care and neonatal intensive care, as well as a wide range of general and complex health care for children. Visit facebook.com/GAChildrens or follow on Twitter at twitter.com/GAChildrens.