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11-year-old Brittany Butts came to St. Louis Children’s Hospital as she has many times before.

“Almost every night I was screaming in pain,” Brittany said.When doctors got her sickle cell disease under control, this tween made one of her many trips to the playroom where something other than the Wii caught her eye. It’s Apple’s iPad. And at children’s hospital, it’s not just another toy. It’s part of the treatment, in three important ways. “Education, the second is distraction and then the last one is preparation,” Tyler Robertson, childcare manager, said.

“We show them the doctors dressed up in their scrubs and hats.”Distraction from the fact that you’ve been hooked up for two weeks to an IV, like Brittany has. Here she’s playing air hockey. “You can have fun with them, and it can take your mind off of your pain,” Brittany said. She also learns about kidney disease, which has put this young patient in the dialysis unit. “And don’t worry that this is another way technology is replacing say good old fashioned board games or arts and crafts. Workers here say this is just another way to connect with their patients,” Kay Quinn said.

“I think it gives us just a little more credibility that we know about technology and we’re using it in the way that they use it as well.” Finding the iPad in the hospital sure impressed this sixth grader.”I can’t believe it but they do have a lot of cool stuff!” Right now, St. Louis children’s hospital has two iPads for patient use. The goal is to get 15, one for every child life specialist on staff.

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