Animals, superheroes, a spaceship MRI … there are many ways to improve a child's experience and even help them heal.
Hospitals are not always the friendliest places for grownups, let alone children. The hospital environment can aggravate concerns, fears, and uncertainties, and it can be uncomfortable and unpleasant to stay there. But some medical centers around the world are remedying this situation, especially those that welcome and heal the littlest ones.
Making an MRI a space adventure
The MRI diagnostic room at the San Juan de Dios Mother and Child Hospital in Barcelona is an authentic spacecraft. Inside, kids feel like they are on a great adventure, and getting their MRI is almost like entering a new dimension. When the decoration was being installed, María Teresa Maristany, head of the diagnostic imaging service, admitted that “the radiology rooms are really hard on kids, who come in upset and not very cooperative.”
Some hospitals (notably, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and others in the United States) have chosen to transform these environments into fun spaces such as a submarine, an aquarium, or even a jungle.
A kid’s best friend: animals
Many children’s hospitals, such as Phoenix Children’s Hospital or Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital, are already implementing animal-assisted therapies. For children and adolescents especially, dogs are a great help for treating different types of diseases, such as autism. The ultimate goal of bringing animals into hospitals is to improve the mood of hospitalized children.
Superheroes … outside your window
Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man have made occasional appearances to the patients at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. But they’ve done so in a most unusual way. The superheroes dangled on the outside of the centers, leaving the children speechless. The big secret is that the superheroes are the hospital maintenance staff who dress up in costume every time they clean the outside windows.
Occasionally, some hospitals perform live concerts in their stress spaces. Music improves moods, facilitates relaxation, and is a good friend of the imagination. In fact, music therapy sessions are even held to enhance the skills of hospitalized children.
The smile cure
Hospital clowns are already active in a wide network of health centers. The initiative aims to improve the state of mind not only of the children patients, but also of their relatives. Many experts say a smile has a great healing power, because it allows the body to secrete substances like serotonin that brighten moods and lift spirits. “Humor is a powerful resource to overcome adversity and grow through it, because it allows us to relativize and reduce the burden of drama,” explained Angie Rosales, director of Pallapupas.
Fun and play are basic elements in childhood. An illness should not be a barrier that deprives kids of all joy. These types of initiatives are just the beginning—now there are also Master’s degrees with classes on how to adapt hospitals and make them kid friendly. In the end, happiness is also a good cure!