Children in Denmark will play their way through hospital treatment

​A new online platform collects ideas on how to use play in the treatment of children and adolescents. The goal is to help the patients better handle everything from blood tests to long term illnesses. 

Did you know that it is possible to soothe a child scheduled for a blood test by giving them a digital teddy bear to take care of? Or that you can boost patients’ finger motor skills by getting them to perform a magic show? You can also reduce the drama of inserting an IV by inviting the patients to engage in a water fight using the IV tubes as toy pistols.

Medical Staff working with children and adolescents often use a playful approach to facilitate and demystify needle-prick procedures, scans, rehabilitation and other treatments – to help children, young people and their families navigate hospital visits more successfully. Rigshospitalet is now inviting hospitals throughout Denmark to share examples of play from their daily practise on, a new online platform developed as part of the preparation of Children’s Hospital Copenhagen – the new hospital building for children, adolescents, pregnant women and their families.

Children’s desire to play is a resource

“Children keep playing even if they are sick or hospitalised. Their natural desire for play is a valuable resource when they need to be examined or treated,” says Elisabeth Ginsberg, Head of Strategy and Innovation at Children’s Hospital Copenhagen. She has been involved in developing PlayPedia and explains: 

“On PlayPedia, one of the play activities is ‘My Teddy Companion’. Here a child uses an app to accompany a digital teddy bear undergoing a procedure such as a blood test. Taking care of the teddy bear helps calming the child before he or she has to go through the same procedure. In this way, you defuse something that could otherwise create stress and anxiety, and there is room to be a child within the reality of a hospital setting.”

The ambition to use play even more actively in treatment is one of the guiding principles of BørneRiget. is intuitive to navigate, and the content is searchable in terms of treatment situations and age level.

Leading the way in play and health – together

The examples of playful activities on PlayPedia are gathered across Rigshospitalet from various professional groups, all of whom are in contact with children and young people in their work: nurses, doctors, bio analysts, radiographers and pedagogues. The desire is that children’s departments from all over Denmark will help to develop and use

“Globally, the potential link between play and health in a hospital context is still an underexplored area, but we know that there are many good examples of play among children and young people in Danish hospitals. Up until now, we didn’t have a shared platform where we could gather and systematise our knowledge. We hope healthcare professionals from all over Denmark will use PlayPedia and contribute with their own examples of how to use play at the hospital. Also, we hope that this platform over time will help Denmark become a frontrunner when it comes to play and health in a hospital context,” Elisabeth Ginsberg explains.

Playful Professionalism at Rigshospitalet

To inspire colleagues around the country and internationally, Rigshospitalet has made a short video that shows how the staff use a playful approach:
Facts about PlayPedia: There are currently 55 games on the portal, which are searchable in terms of age, treatment situation and the skills the game promotes.

Facts about the Children's Hospital Copenhagen: The Capital Region of Denmark, Rigshospitalet and Ole Kirk’s Foundation have joined forces in a partnership to build a new public hospital that sets new standards for the treatment of children, adolescents, pregnant women and their families. The title of the project is: BørneRiget - Children’s Hospital Copenhagen. The new hospital opens for patients in 2025. About the project and vision.



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