Vaccinating? Taking blood? Nothing to be afraid of!
Scholars from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Wrocław have created a game called ‘Magic Spheres’, which distracts children from pain during blood sampling or vaccination.
Pain caused by short medical procedures is often associated with children experiencing severe stress and anxiety. This can lead to negative attitudes towards doctors or the health service, and may result in future avoidance of tests or treatment. The results of the study revealed that focusing on highly engaging content can prevent this from happening. The game can be downloaded for free from the Google Play shop.
The ‘Magic Spheres’ game is based on a long-term study on distraction from short-term pain using virtual reality. The results showed that immersion in a highly attentive virtual environment significantly reduces pain and stress during blood collection in children.
Dr Marcin Czub, co-author of the game, said: The game is based on our research we conducted using virtual reality, which resulted in very significant reductions in both pain and anxiety in children. We conducted the research in hospitals in Poland, Spain, Ireland and Turkey.
More about the research: http://magicspheres.uni.wroc.pl/
Dr Justyna Śniecińska adds: Thanks to long-term research and its results, we now have a chance to change children’s lives, as the app, which has so far been used in scientific studies, will now be available to everyone.
The game can be used on a smartphone or tablet, making it accessible to parents and healthcare professionals in almost any conditions. The pain relief mechanism used in the game is based on tracking multiple objects simultaneously. This is the most effective of all the distraction methods used, as it requires constant focus and concentration on multiple objects at the same time.
As the co-author of the project, dr Joanna Piskorz emphasises, it is safe for the youngest: This is not a game that we will play for hours, it distracts for 5-10 minutes.
The game does not contain any stimulating or aggressive content – adds dr Czub – We do not intend to increase children’s addiction to technology in any way. It is not necessary to move the body during the game. It will not disturb nurses when collecting blood or vaccinating.
The game “Magic Spheres” consists in memorising a few briefly flashing elements, then following their movement and pointing them out among other moving objects. The game consists of several scenes, varying in background and number of flying objects, in order to maintain the child’s interest with each level and increase the chance of distraction. With varying levels of difficulty, the game is suitable for both children and adults.
Dr Piskorz reviews: For toddlers 2-3 years old the game may still be too heavy, but I imagine a four-year-old for whom this game will be adapted, and five years old is the limit when children will definitely catch the idea of the game and be able to play it.
Developed by researchers from the University of Wrocław, the game is free, available for download in the Google Play shop (to be installed in the Android system).