More than toys
Patients use sensory tools to help with stress and anxiety
Our Emergency Department (ED) doesn’t just treat broken bones, asthma attacks and heart concerns. Many patients who come into our ED are struggling with things that can’t be seen by the naked eye, an X-ray or even a CAT scan.
Every day, we see kids and teens who are suicidal or who have tried to hurt someone else. These are children in crisis. For these patients, care often begins in the ED, with a behavioral health assessment.
Our ED staff members perform about 40 behavioral health assessments each day. The assessments take place in specially designed rooms, free of anything patients could use to harm themselves or someone else, including standard medical equipment. Physicians are trained to ask critical questions and to make sure the patient is medically stable. Then, if the patient is not medically ill, a psychiatry intake coordinator is brought in to do an in-depth interview and exam. If the child or teen is in imminent danger of harming themselves or others, or is actively psychotic, they may be admitted to the Rees-Jones Behavioral Health Center.
Unfortunately, we see an alarming number of children struggling with their mental well-being. Sometimes, just being in the ED can cause anxiety and stress in a kid, so we want to ensure that we have the tools they need to cope with the emotions they are feeling.
The Behavioral Health team within our ED uses a variety of sensory items and toys to help calm and distract patients. Self-regulation through playful engagement helps patients feel safe, process information and better cope in stressful situations. This can be achieved through art, journaling, squeezing stress balls, spinning fidgets, popping bubbles and playing card games.
You can support these patients by purchasing sensory toys from our ED’s wish list, so there are always some available when a child needs one. Because at Cook Children’s, we know that it is important to treat the whole child, even the parts that you can’t just bandage.