Riley app helps children prepare for surgery


Pain and discomfort are an unfortunate part of burn injury and recovery. To better help children cope, Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health created a tool using technology kids love - an iPad.

Von Boehme is headed to surgery. He suffered a severe burn on his foot during an accident in his backyard and needs a skin graft.

But he's not scared.

That's because Von has Molly, his tour guide through the hospital's burn unit, through the "My Burn Journey" app. The app gives Von and his mother, Mindy, an orientation of the procedure and everything that's going to happen before it happens.

The experience is full of interaction turning a scary procedure into fun and games.

Caitlin Dougherty, a child life specialist at Riley, helped write the app.

"I've had a lot of children that really like to do interactive things and really like to visually see things. With kids always wanting technology, always loving technology, the iPad has been very popular," Dougherty said.

The My Burn Journey app is very popular. Hospitals around the country have called, wanting to know how they can create something similar for their patients and their families.

"I think it really helped him and prepared him for what's going to go on back there and he's more relaxed," said Von's mother, Mindy.

That makes mom relaxed for the surgery and what comes next.

"I feel good knowing he's comfortable with it," she said.

The app can also be used with recovery after the skin graft surgery, coaching the child through the process of changing bandages daily and offering games to play during therapies for a fun distraction.