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CAN CHILDREN PLAY IN HOSPITAL?

We may think that when children are ill, they will neither have the strength nor the inclination to play..., that the hospital is not the most suitable place to play..., that as they have to stay in bed, they will not be able to play as they normally do..., that the hospital atmosphere does not lend itself to play... or that the priority is medical treatment and physical needs rather than emotional and psychological ones. But nothing could be further from the truth. We are talking about an environment in which the need to play, an essential activity for the child's physical health and psychological development, becomes more necessary than ever. Like any creative activity, play generates emotional satisfaction and self-confidence, and therefore should be regarded as the therapeutic activity par excellence. Symbolic play can help hospitalised children to understand, accept and alleviate their current state. It helps them to maintain a sense of control over the prevailing environment, enabling them to express their feelings, release emotional tension and therefore, anxiety and stress. It is the best way for the child to accept and accommodate the hospital environment. Play helps the child to channel aggression and face fears, as well as boosting self-esteem and self-confidence.

However, it is important to bear in mind certain points regarding play in hospital, especially when the child is unable to get out of bed.
For example, children should use toys:
- that promote feelings of competence, self-esteem and control, with gratifying results.
- that cause laughter and are fun, but also encourage relaxation and concentration; that stimulate creativity and imagination, help to shake off inhibitions and express feelings, etc.
- that do not make too much noise nor bother other patients.
- that they can use in bed and do not involve moving around. - (in some cases) that can be used with one hand, in the event of partial immobility due to connection to a drip.
- that do not involve participation by a large number of players.
- that are neither too heavy nor too large, so that they can be easily used in bed.

The stimulus provided by playing with toys undoubtedly helps to improve children's state of health and quality of life during their period in hospital.

AIJU (the Spanish Toy Research Institute) in collaboration with the University of Valencia (Faculty of Psychology, Department of Personality, Assessment and Intervention) have carried out a research project into play and toys in the hospital environment, which has resulted in the creation of a mobile play concept: the LUDOMOBILE. It is a toy lending service, whose aim is to stimulate play in the hospital context, particularly in cases where play has to take place in the room itself.

If you require further information or would like to acquire a Ludomobile, please contact AIJU:Pedagogia.ibi@aiju.es
pedagogia.val@aiju.es
Tel.: 965 55 44 75 /963 37 13 76
Fax: 965 55 44 90 /963 37 13 76
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