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Portiuncula University Hospital launches ‘Little Journey’ app for young patients

A new virtual reality app has been launched to help children between the ages of three and twelve to prepare for surgery and allay their anxiety in advance of their hospital stay.

Portiuncula University Hospital’s Little Journey app provides 360 degree views of all the areas the children will visit at the hospital as well as useful information about anaesthesiology tailored to the age of the child.

The app is free to download from Google Play Store or App Store. It can be used on a smartphone in 2D or using a 3D virtual reality headset.

It gives children the chance to meet the animated healthcare characters who will explain what they do and what happens on the day of surgery, see some of the equipment which will be used to care for them, find out more about what to expect on the day of their procedure and includes a virtual tour of the children’s day ward, the theatre room and the recovery room at Portiuncula University Hospital.

Six-year-old Diarmuid Fallon from Oran, Co Roscommon, was one of the first to use the app – something his mum, Martina, admitted was a great help.

“The app was so helpful for my son Diarmuid. He could visualise his hospital experience through the app and it really helped not only him but me to prepare. He loved the different characters and games and played the games all the way in the car to the hospital.  It is also a great information tool for parents; we loved it, it’s a great resource,” she said.

PUH Consultant Anaesthesiologist Dr Vinod Sudhir acknowledged that preoperative anxiety was ‘a very real phenomenon’ in children and parents before undergoing general anaesthesia.

“Children may have anxiety around the multidisciplinary environment of theatre, their expectation of events, meeting unfamiliar people and even fear of pain,” he said.

“Some of the parent’s anxiety comes from their fear of the unknown and the steps surrounding their role with their child at the time their child undergoes anaesthesia. By providing information through the app, which uses child-friendly animation, we can begin to prepare parents/guardians and children for surgery and ease their distress.

“The ‘Little Journey’ app was developed to help change the way children experience hospitals by empowering them and giving them the information they need to reduce their anxiety in a fun, interactive format. The app helps children to familiarise themselves with the hospital and the handy checklists included will help families to prepare in advance of the hospital stay,” he added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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