New "Radiation for Kids" educational CD

Toronto (July 24, 2006) - A new, interactive, educational CD called Radiation for Kids is being launched nationally to help kids with cancer feel less stress about receiving radiation treatment.

Developed in collaboration between Princess Margaret Hospital, Jack Digital Productions Inc., and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the innovative CD incorporates games, animations, and explanations designed to teach children between 2 – 16 years of age. Children played a key role in the product's development and selected the voices and images used in the CD.

The CD offers puzzles for younger children and 12 modules for older children. The modules tour children through a virtual hospital with the goal of becoming an honorary radiation doctor. Along the way, they meet their health care team: physicist, radiation therapist, doctor, and nurse. They visit the virtual radiation planning (CT) room, the stereotactic room, and the radiation treatment room.

In the planning room, they learn how the CT scanner helps the team plan the radiation treatment. In the stereotactic room, children are introduced to the different tools involved in making the head frame: the plastic wrap, hair net, dental tray, and "the thing that looks like a water gun." And in the treatment room, children practice lining up radiation beams to targets on the patient's body. Sound effects include noises that patients will hear during treatment, such as the whirring of the CT scanner and the linear accelerator, which delivers the radiation.

"Radiation therapy is a scary time for children because they will be in the treatment room alone without their parents," says Dr. Normand Laperriere, radiation oncologist and head of the pediatric radiation program at Princess Margaret Hospital. "This tool helps diminish their anxiety and fear levels by showing them what the treatment room looks like and what will happen inside the room."

"Children and parents who tested the CD told us it was helpful and fun and they enjoyed being interactive with the characters," says SusanAwrey, paediatric radiation nurse coordinator atSickKids, who was involved in the CD's development.

For parents, there is an accompanying section with a glossary of medical terms, anatomical definitions, an overview of cancer, and an explanation of radiation treatment. In addition, there are age-specific guidelines on how to talk to your child about cancer and treatment.

About 500 Canadian children each year receive radiation treatment for cancer. Through the generous support of donors, the CDs are being provided free to every child who needs radiation treatment. The CD is being distributed to each of 11 Canadian cancer centres that treat children with cancer, and to referring facilities.

"The Radiation for Kids CD is an engaging, realistic, and interactive environment so the kids could learn from exploration," says David Wiljer, director of knowledge management and innovation for Princess Margaret Hospital's award-winning oncology education and radiation medicine program. "When the kids learn by doing, it makes it easier for them to understand what's going to happen to them."

Development and distribution of Radiation for Kids CD is supported by The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario, Ronald McDonald Children's Charities, Toronto Junior League, Brain Child, Maple Downs Ladies Pro Arm, and York Uniforms.

About Jack Digital Productions

Jack Digital Productions Inc. (JDP) specializes in the creation, development, production, marketing and distribution of advanced multimedia education software. JDP's Oncology Interactive ™ Education Series (OIES ™) is used worldwide to provide patients with a sense of control through comprehensive cancer education. For more information, visit: oncologyinteractive.com.

About The Hospital for Sick Children

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), affiliated with the University of Toronto, is Canada's most research-intensive hospital and the largest centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. As innovators in child health, SickKids improves the health of children by integrating care, research and teaching. Our mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized care by creating scientific and clinical advancements, sharing our knowledge and expertise and championing the development of an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. SickKids is committed to healthier children for a better world. For more information, please visit www.sickkids.ca.

About Princess Margaret Hospital

Princess Margaret Hospital and its research arm, Ontario Cancer Institute, have achieved an international reputation as global leaders in the fight against cancer. Princess Margaret Hospital is a member of the University Health Network, which also includes Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital. All three are teaching hospitals affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Media Contact

Phone: 416 340 4636
Email: UHN.News@uhn.ca

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