Friday, January 30, 2015

A little piece of plastic to help with shots.

A little over a year ago when we took the LittleBear (~3 yrs at the time) in to the doctor, it was time for one of her vaccinations. I was prepared to help distract her for the shot, and was surprised when the doctor didn't ask me to help. Instead she got the shot ready, then pulled out a piece of yellow plastic. As we all watched (me in slight horror that I should be doing something because, right, kids hate shots, and what is going to happen, and is she going to scream, and why aren't you asking me to hold her down??), the doctor pressed the piece of plastic to LittleBear's arm, then with us all watching, gave her the shot, then removed the plastic. No crying. No fighting. No fussing. Our doctor put a bandage on, and we were on our way home.

It. was. awesome.

This amazing bit of plastic is called a "ShotBlocker." It is smooth plastic on one side, and a mini "bed of nails" of plastic on the other. The stimulation from the tiny pieces of plastic confuse the skin, and prevent the body from interpreting the pain of the shot. Fantastic!

This year, for four-year-old shots at a new pediatrician, I took in the ShotBlocker we had purchased, and asked the doctor if we could use it. He said it was no problem, and shared it with his nursing staff. This time, however, I showed Little Bear how it would feel on her skin, then let her practice several times on me. By the time the nurse came with the vaccination, Little Bear was prepared to show how it worked,  the nurse used it without incident, and we went home. This nurse was a little rougher than people in our previous clinic, and it was also three shots this trip, so there were a few tears (literally, a countable number of them), but no fighting, screaming, or extreme distress.

I looked it up, and there is some evidence that ShotBlocker may reduce perceived pain by parents and nurses (with low difficulty of use reported by nurses), but not necessarily lower reported pain by children (see here).

So, after the first use, I was a convert. We've used it a few more times, and I will say, that at the minimum, it doesn't increase pain, and may increase distraction. I'd be really curious to see if it decreases anxiety. I remember the anxiety of feeling the poke being so much worse than the pain. I will have to report back with more data when we go for our next vaccine visit. 


Unknown said...

Our pediatricians office uses them, and from our kids reactions (4.5 yr old, 9 month old) I don't know how well they work, as we still seem to get plenty of tears. However, in contrast to my own recollection, we've never had a kicking and screaming session when we mention shots to the oldest.

mathbionerd said...

The tears I think may be inevitable. I'm curious if having the 4yo get to see it and play with it helps reduce some of the anxiety. Now, to find someone to do the analysis.

Mark P said...

I love any idea that avoids the situation that continued with my older child till she was literally 20, went abroad to study for a year and needed a vaccination to travel somewhere she desperately wanted to go. I also am a firm believer in effective placebos.

On a more serious note, the news on vaccination avoiders and deniers this week is horrifying--i just posted this on my lab Facebook page along with the graphic at the link:
The vaccination issue is one every scientist needs to take into their community--talk to folks about it in your neighborhood, at your kid's school, wherever people are making uninformed and dangerous decisions not to vaccinate their children. Sadly, they include otherwise highly educated folks who believe in thoroughly discredited ideas. I am old enough to remember some of these diseases and my parents and grandparents survived some of them. We do not need to return to that world, where the death of children was an accepted part of life.

mathbionerd said...

Mark, I totally agree. Vaccination is something I try to talk about a lot. I've been shocked a few times by learning that my colleagues aren't fully vaccinated, nor are their kids. I think education, not shaming, is the answer, but it does scare me.