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'Buzzy' Device Reduces Pain And Anxiety For Kids Getting Shots At Hospital

Child at hospital receives shot with Buzzy to reduce painAs a Child Life Specialist in the Clinical Care Center, I work with patients of all ages and health care experiences, usually undergoing a number of procedures. From brain surgery to cast removal, to... a common thread among many of these kiddos lies in 1 anxious question — “Do I have to get a shot?” This is why I take such great pleasure in telling families and co-workers about a device supported by published research as well as surveys from Texas Children's Hospital patients and families that makes those unwanted "pokes," "shots" and "needles" easier. You can call him by his given name in our Allergy & Immunology Clinic “Buzzter” or by his trademark The Buzzy; but either way, this tickle bug makes a big difference for many of our patients and families. Buzzy is a non-pharmacological pain control device that operates on the principals of the Gate Pain Control theory. Using vibration (his "buzz") and cold (via his frozen wings), Buzzy engages the nerve fibers in a way that can help "interrupt" a pain signal en route to the brain. In other words, as I tell my preschool age patients, this tickle bug keeps your “feelers” VERY BUSY feeling his cold wings and his tickly body, so that you don’t feel the "pinch/poke" feeling as much. Buzzy for shots at hospitalBut please, don’t take my word for it! Research has shown that Buzzy reduces patient-reported pain and anxiety from children ages 4 and older. It has also been determined that experimental groups who used the Buzzy had a higher IV start success rate (Baxter, Cohen & VonBaeyer 2011). Also, a study focused on blood draws reported no negative impact when utilizing Buzzy during a blood draw, while still finding the same positive effects in anxiety and pain levels (Inal & Kelleci 2012). If you’re interested in reading more about Buzzy research, check out their website. While the experience of an injection (whether for a blood draw, IV start or vaccination) is rather common in childhood... for many of our patients, it is also a deal breaker. It hurts! And usually patients cannot quite fathom its benefit or immediately experience its worth. This is what makes the opportunity to use Buzzy so incredible. It can help prevent or limit a pain experience that commonly comes between families and a positive coping experience with a health care encounter. And the best part is it doesn’t require a medical license, training or even background to utilize it. Place Buzzy "between the pain and the brain," and turn him on! Buzzy can be held by a nurse, phlebotomist, Child Life Specialist, Mom, Dad or even the patient himself. Buzzy is still fairly new to Texas Children's Hospital, but he is a busy little guy and is making his way around! Many of the Child Life Specialists have access to one and many of the outpatient clinics, west tower inpatient floors, and even pathology labs are beginning to order them to have on hand. Bee on the watch out for this tiny but mighty little helper bug!
Lindsay Hoogner, Child Life Specialist