Apple's iPad an effective sedative for children about to undergo surgery, study finds

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A research study presented Tuesday claims that iPads are just as effective as medicinal sedatives for reducing pre-surgical anxiety from nervousness about the procedure compounded by parental separation on children between ages 4 and 10.

The study on the effects of pre-op iPad distraction was presented at the World Congress of Anaesthesiologists in Hong Kong based on research by Dr. Dominique Chassard, EPICIME, Hopital Mere Enfant, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Bron, France and his colleagues.

The control group of patients was given the standard sedative for care, with the experimental group given an iPad 20 minutes before general anesthesia. Children's anxiety was measured four times, three before the procedure and one afterwards in the post-surgical unit.

Examination of the raw data proved that parental and child anxiety levels for both the medicated and iPad-using groups were similar, with progression at the same rate and magnitude up the evaluation scale. Discussions and more direct observations told a slightly different story.

"Our study showed that child and parental anxiety before anaesthesia are equally blunted by midazolam or use of the iPad," Dr. Chassard said. "However, the quality of induction of anasthesia, as well as parental satisfaction, were judged better in the iPad group."

The iPad is widely used in clinical settings for record keeping and data entry, but the pre-anesthesia study appears to be the first of its kind.

Other non-conventional medical uses of the iPad have been for post-stroke therapy, as an augmented reality surgical assistant, as well as a general coping tool for long-term illness.