Abby Hess, a nurse practitioner at Cincinnati Children’s hospital, developed a tablet-based breathing game to help children use anesthesia masks.

EZ Induction works in conjunction with an anesthesia mask as the controller. With the app, children are able to move cartoon animals on the screen by breathing into the mask, turning what could be a scary situation into a calming game.

Hess works in the Department of Anesthesia at Cincinnati Children’s. Children under 10 are often given anesthesia through the breathing mask when surgery is needed. Many children are frightened or scared of the mask, creating an extra layer of stress for the children, parents, and medical staff.

Hess collaborated with the hospital’s Innovation Ventures team, and the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-up Fund to create and test the gaming app.

Children are encouraged to play the game in a preoperating room. The final level is played when the child is taken to the operating room and ready to fall asleep for surgery.

“The game shifts the focus from something scary to something that’s calming and fun,” Hess said. “It easily engages kids, teaches them to breathe calmly, and lets them know what to expect when they go back to the operating room. Seeing their child engage with the game also helps parents feel at ease and provides them with a novel way to coach their child during the process.”

EZ Induction has been officially licensed to Little Seed Technologies, with plans to release the gaming app later this year.

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Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.