To allay anxiety in children at the time of a CT scan, PGI doctors have come up with a play therapy which not only helps relax children but also obviates the need for sedation.
“When children come to us for CT scans, they are very anxious and it becomes difficult to conduct their scans. To make sure that they remain motionless during the process, we have to give them sedation, which has its own side effects. Further, children have to remain on empty stomach for a long time,” said Dr Komal Gandhi, from the Department of Anaesthesia, PGI.
“As a solution to this problem, we came up with a play therapy where a child is told that the CT machine is like a spaceship and he or she has to act like an astronaut, lying straight in the machine for a few minutes. In return, the child is given a reward, like crayons or candy,” said Dr Gandhi.
The activity has proven to be a great success. Children used to be scared of undergoing a CT scan, but after play therapy they started fighting for going in first. In about 70 per cent cases now, doctors are using play therapy.
Before adopting the practice, the doctors tested it in a study. A total of 90 children, aged 4 to 10, who were scheduled for CT scans, were randomly allocated in two groups: the play therapy group and the control group.
Adventure play therapy (spaceship and astronaut game) was narrated to the children and their parents in the first group at a play area where a model of a CT scanner was kept. The control group was simply informed about the procedure, without any behavioural intervention.
The anxiety of children and their parents was assessed after the study intervention and inside the CT room. A total of 86 children and their parents completed the trial. Of them, 42 were in the control group and 44 in the play therapy group.
There was a significant reduction in the anxiety of children and their parents in the PT group compared to the control group. “We found that the anxiety levels came down by 50 per cent in children enrolled in play therapy,” said Dr Gandhi.