521840?1348844371
Rebecca Resnik, PsyD  
Female
Bethesda, MD

Specialties: ADHD, dyslexia, developmental delays

Interests: Developmental Disabilities
MindWell Clinical Psychology
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301-581-1120
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Fear of needles and shots? Life just got better!

Sep 06, 2012 - 3 comments
Tags:

Fear

,

needles

,

shots

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Diabetes

,

dealing with anxiety

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Autism

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Autism/PDD

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Allergies

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Chronic Illness

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Depression

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Pain

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injections

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blood draws



Children and parents, and everyone in the world, dread shots. We have all held our little ones, feeling their heart pounding, as they cry in shock and pain when the nice nurse suddenly surprises them with a painful shot (of course saying “This won’t hurt!”). Its awful enough for routine check-ups, but for some families, coping with injections is a major issue. If you child has an autistic spectrum disorder, sensory regulation difficulties, anxiety, or has been through a traumatic experience, getting shots can be a nightmare.

For the child who has chronic illnesses that require frequent or even daily injections, enduring shots can lead to severe stress. How rotten for a child first diagnosed with diabetes—not only do you have to give up eating your favorite treats (and trick or treating will never be the same), you suddenly have a lifetime of shots and finger sticks to look forward to! And the child with allergies? He could be getting a shot a week for months.

Pain management is an aspect of medical care that is often a lower priority than treating the presenting problem. But its important to know that pain puts us at higher risk for mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. I spent my internship year at Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital, a rehabilitation hospital for children. Though we psychologists would try as hard as we could to use distraction and to teach pain management techniques, the pain and fear of shots did not go away. Lots of children cry their way though injections every day.

So I was thrilled to hear about the work of Dr. Amy Baxter, a pediatric emergency physician and researcher whose work focuses on alleviating pain. Dr. Baxter has invented a little device called ‘Buzzy’ that significantly reduces, or even removes, needle pain. Buzzy works by desensitizing nerves though vibration and cold. It can even be used at the dentist or for blood draws. I’m hoping that advances in pain relief like Buzzy will make life better for everyone out there who dreads needle pain. So check out this website www.buzzy4shots.com to learn more.


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by AnnieBrooke, Sep 06, 2012
I don't know if this helps the discussion, but there is another simple way to help a kid with shots.  (I can't take the credit for it -- saw it on an Oobie show once, where Oobie goes to the doctor for a checkup.  But I've used it with my son, and it works so well.)  It works because it makes kids laugh and also makes them feel in charge, which of course the feeling of waiting helplessly is part of the problem with shots.

Get a party blower, the kind that if the person blows on one end, the curled-up end straightens out and it makes a blowing noise, and then curls up again.  (You see them all the time at New Year's, and they are available year-round at party stores).  When the child is going to get a shot, you hand him the blower, and say, "O.K., we'll do 'one, two, three, BLOW'!" and the child puts the blower in his mouth and you say "One, two, three, blow!" and at the blow, which of course is funny to the kid because the silly blower is suddenly straightening out, the nurse or doc gives the shot.  We call it "blowing the shot," and my son always announces that "it didn't hurt at all!"  I think the fact that he is laughing, and focusing on something else right in his face that is doing an action that is silly, and also "blowing away the pain," is why it works.  The nurses in our HMO (who are the ones who give the shots) think this is great, and it makes them laugh too (after all, who really wants to give a shot to a little kid?)  The whole mood is very light when we blow a shot.  Needless to say, though my son will ask if he is going to have a shot before a given checkup, he doesn't look too concerned about it if he is, and he is definitely not afraid of shots.

I don't know that this would work for someone who had to have a painful shot every day, but who knows, it might.  The shot does not go in until the child blows, and that makes THEM in charge instead of being subjected to something at someone else's will, and it seems to me that is half of the anxiety of shots.  "I am waiting for someone to hurt me and I cannot stop them" is not a though very conducive to relaxation and freedom from pain.

I kind of expect to see a jar of party blowers in the nurse treatment room pretty soon.  It certainly could work as well for adults as for kids.  :)  

134578_tn?1404951303
by AnnieBrooke, Sep 06, 2012
oops, "thought," not "though"

521840_tn?1348844371
by Rebecca Resnik, PsyDBlank, Sep 10, 2012
Good ideas Annie! Your trick actually matches what the research says--distraction can work wonders for pain.

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