You may have already heard about Janet Blank who recently became the first patient at Plymouth Hospital’s trust to use an iPad as a distraction during knee surgery rather than being sedated. The surgery, and the novel distraction technique, were both a success. Janet has been quoted as saying:
“I heard everything, the hammer and drill but it didn’t bother me at all […]. I went to the recovery room after the operation and then straight up to the ward, I’d advise it to anyone”.
Benefits of not opting for sedation include avoiding the side effects of the drugs involved. The surgeon is also able to communicate with the patient during the surgery which could be beneficial in some circumstances.
Distraction techniques have previously been used in other medical settings, for example:
- To reduce perceived pain of patients receiving ocular anaesthetic injections prior to cataracts surgery (Simmons, Chabal, Griffith, Rausch & Steele, 2004) using massage, oral coaching and deep breathing exercises.
- To reduce perceived pain during Flexible Bronchoscopy by using nature murals and sounds (Diette, Lechtzin, Haponik, Devrotes & Rubin, 2003).
- To reduce perceived pain and behavioural distress in children using a kaleidoscope (Vessey, Carlson & McGill, 1994).
Also, the recent surgery with Janet Blank is not the first time technology has been used as a distraction technique. In 2000, Hoffman, Patterson and Carrougher used virtual reality to distract adult burn victims during physical therapy.
All of these studies have found that the distraction techniques significantly reduced perceived level of pain.
What are your thoughts – is this a technique that you would choose as a complement to local anaesthetic? How about when it is offered as an alternative to sedation, as in the case of Janet Blank?
In the not so distant future patients may be updating their Facebook status and tweeting during surgery!