Irish hospital uses MP4 players to help kids relax during scans

11 Jul 2011

Staff at the National Children’s Hospital in Tallaght, Dublin, have begun using MP4 players as a way of reducing stress and anxiety young children experience when undergoing scans and could be an alternative to sedation, nurses say.

The first results of using the devices have proven encouraging, the hospital says, and may even help contribute to reducing wait times.

Recently, patients at the NCH Tallaght have been encouraged to focus on specially selected music and TV programmes installed on an MP4 player. 

The device allows them to focus their attention away from what can be a strange and frightening experience for some and initial reports suggest the new practice also reduces the need for sedation in many cases.

“Each scan lasts approximately 15 minutes and we believed that an MP4 player could act as an effective alternative to sedation,” nursery nurse at the NCH Tallaght Danielle Smyth explained.

“Naturally, each individual child is assessed to gauge their suitability before employing this technique as it may not suit everyone, but initial results seem to be very encouraging.”

Reducing wait times for scans

The new method has successfully been used in more than 100 patients to date. Such is the success of the new technique that it has even been introduced to different areas of the department, including the CT department and the screening room.

As well as the obvious calming benefit that the MP4 player has had on patients, it has also produced the added benefit of reducing patient waiting times for scans.

This is due to the fact that the new initiative reduces requirements for a ward bed which would be necessary when a child has been sedated. 

“Use of the device means we are able to see more patients over shorter periods of time, so we are working more efficiently, which can only be considered very favourably,” the hospital’s Dr Sarah Barrett said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years