Medical Inventions Can Come From Unexpected Sources

Image above: Nurse-practitioner Abby Hess with a patient using her invention, a video game to ease kids' pre-surgery fears.


It’s not just medical researchers whose ideas get turned into cutting-edge, sometimes life-saving products. Nurses -- with their eyes on the practical, everyday aspects of healthcare --  can do so as well.

Consider Cincinnati Children’s Hospital nurse-practitioner Abby Hess, whose observations about kids’ pre-surgery fears led to a solution developed by the hospital’s Innovation Ventures group.

Kids up until 10 years old are commonly anesthetized with a surgical mask, and Hess noticed these young patients becoming anxious when masks were placed over their faces.

It was her idea to create a video game to help kids relax “during this high-anxiety moment,"  she noted in a press release.

After being piloted at Cincinnati Children’s, the tablet-based app has now been licensed to LittleSeed Calming Technologies for marketing to other hospitals nationwide under the name EZ Induction.

Transforming what Cincinnati Children’s calls something scary into a fun game controller, EZ Induction invites children to move cartoon characters by breathing into the mask. By breathing in and out, they win different challenges in the animal-themed game.

Speaking of high anxiety, just imagine having to sit through hours of classroom instruction, understand written concepts, demonstrate chest compressions and finally take a test if you had special learning needs or reading difficulties.

The new “CPR and AED Basics” toolkit was developed to solve this problem. 

This idea came from Angela Jackson, a retired Cincinnati Children’s respiratory therapist, who then worked with Erin Riehle, a registered nurse and founder of the hospital’s Project Search -- which focuses on helping and training young people with learning needs to find employment.

Jackson had been inspired by the story of a woman who saved the life of a two-year-old who fell into a lake after she had taken an '”adapted” CPR course given by Project Search.

Jackson, Riehle and others developed a competitive but low-pressure board game with mannequins, game pieces and cards that helps users learn and practice CPR skills in preparation for their certification class. 

Innovation Ventures then licensed the kit to Attainment Company, a company that markets educational products for people with disabilities. It’s now on sale via Attainment’s website.

Expect more medical firsts to come from the 80-year-old Innovation Ventures, which has helped bring to market medical treatments such as the Sabin oral polio vaccine in the 1950s, and now has "about 500 projects in our pipeline,” said Abram Gordon, the group’s vice president, in a statement.

A year ago, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital struck a collaboration with preclinical drug investment/development firm and Cincinnati neighbor Orange Grove Bio to provide commercialization guidance and support to its discoveries, with a focus on such areas as autoimmune and  inflammatory diseases, oncology, and cell and gene therapies.

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