Stories about: Quick Note

Hacking Pediatrics mixes clinicians, developers, designers and more for health care innovation

Hacking Pediatrics mashup man woman laptops health care innovation

Our sister blog Vector recaps the 2015 Hacking Pediatrics Mashup, a 12-hour event that brought together 17 teams of clinicians, developers, designers and engineers to collaborate and hack technologies aimed at tackling a wide range of pediatric health care problems:

The majority of the pediatric products or solutions pitched came from residents and fellows, but there were plenty of non-millennials among the hackers—most notably, 97-year-old pediatrician and author T. Berry Brazelton, MD, founder of the Touchpoints Center, who came up from Cape Cod to join a hack that would help nurses tune in to children’s developmental needs.

Enthusiasm ran high, not only among the clinicians bringing pain points to be hacked, but also the software developers, IT companies, designers, MBA students and other mentors — and even the judges.

Among the top hacks were a gaming-inspired technology aimed at making medication adherence easy for kids and parents, a suicide prevention app and home platform for collecting oximetry data.

Learn more about the Hacking Pediatrics Mashup on Vector.

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A poor man’s test for vestibular dysfunction

Jacob Brodsky iPhone bucket vestibular dysfunction dizziness

Dizziness is a definite challenge to evaluate in children. “One of the toughest things to figure out is, is it a problem with the vestibular system, or is it part of something else, a heart problem or an eye problem?” says Jacob Brodsky, MD, director of the Balance and Vestibular Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Then, the next challenge is determining whether it is an inner ear problem or a problem with the brain.”

A definitive answer often requires fancy equipment that generally isn’t available at pediatric centers. But with an ordinary bucket, an iPhone, an $18 app and some Velcro, Brodsky can quickly get a good indication of whether a child has a vestibular disorder — and specifically an inner ear problem.

The test is quick and simple: patients put their face in the bucket and turn it to “straighten” a vertical line displayed on an iPhone (affixed to the bottom of the bucket). The iPhone then calculates the patient’s subjective visual vertical (SVV), a measure of vestibular function. Brodsky hopes to see pediatricians, neurologists and otolaryngologists adopt this approach to do office-based testing.

Read more the iPhone + bucket test for vestibular dysfunction on our sister blog, Vector.

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Preparing a child for a stay in the hospital

child hospital wheelchair Thriving
(sonya etchison/Shutterstock)

Families are often unsure about how to prepare their child for a stay in the hospital, regardless of whether its for one night or for longer. They worry about making their child anxious, providing the wrong information, keeping their child connected to family and friends and more.

They’re right to be concerned, because proper preparation can make a big difference. As Boston Children’s staff psychologist Carolyn Snell, PhD, explains on our sister blog, Thriving:

Providing children with information about what to expect in an age-appropriate and specific manner can help with any anxiety they may be experiencing and reduce their distress. This reduced anxiety and distress can, in turn, be associated with positive outcomes for children, such as improved sleep and decreased pain while in the hospital. It can also improve children’s confidence and correct any misconceptions they might have about the hospitalization process.

Snell offers five tips for families that can help them prepare their child for a hospital stay.

See Snell’s tips for preparing children for the hospital on Thriving.

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Unsupervised smartphone time for a toddler: good or bad?

toddler smartphone child media Thriving Mediatrician
(Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock)

Is it okay to let a three-year-old use a smartphone or tablet unsupervised? That’s the question a parent recently posed to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Mediatrician, Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the hospital’s Center on Media and Child Health.

His answer? Not really:

Using a smartphone, tablet, or even watching TV together allows you to observe your daughter’s immediate response to and use of the screen, while also creating a shared experience. This kind of joint media engagement (JME) provides a richer and healthier experience for the child both in terms of her social-emotional development and for her learning.

Handing a young child a screen to pacify her is problematic, both because it appears to reward her for the behavior you are attempting to pacify and because of what her screen time displaces.

Read the rest of Rich’s response on our sister blog, Thriving.

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