How One App Eases Cancer Treatment for Children

Mashable

Children fighting cancer have to deal with chemotherapy, hair loss and hospital stays. Now, an iOS app is taking a bit of the load off their shoulders by making pain diaries -- the daily log of their experience with the disease -- easier to manage.

Pain Squad is the first iOS app designed for kids with cancer to replace their pain diary in a fun, interactive way.

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Pediatric oncologists at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto asked ideas company Cundari to develop an iPhone app that could minimize pain, improve quality of life and reduce distress for patients and their families.

The team at Cundari developed Pain Squad, a cop-style game with missions and rewards designed to engage kids enough to fill out their paid diaries twice each day for two weeks.

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"Pain Squad is easy to use, so it motivates kids to keep participating over the entire two weeks it runs," Brent Choi, Cundari cheif creative officer, told Mashable. "Imagine how long it would take kids to fill in a written journal. It becomes a real reminder of the the pain they're going through."

New users join the squad as "rookies" and earn higher ranks up to "police chief" as they progress through levels by completing regular surveys. Stars from different Canadian police dramas, such as Rookie Blue and Flashpoint, appear in costume periodically in video messages of encouragement.

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"Kids using the app will start to understand what's working for them in managing their pain," says Mike Orr, Cundari lead digital strategist. "It really empowers them and makes them feel like they have some control."

The information entered into the app will be used in SickKids' ongoing research on pediatric cancer.

SickKids had previously tried using diaries conducted on Palm Pilot mobile devices, but the kids found the program clunky and non-engaging.

Pain Squad is expected to roll out in different hospitals around Canada in the coming months.

Is Pain Squad a win for cancer research and treatment? Should more hospitals use apps to engage with patients? Let us know in the comments.

This story originally published on Mashable here.

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