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Tools take trauma out of trip to doctor

04/08/06

Tools take trauma out of trip to doctor

Michelle TaiteA new set of diagnostic devices could soon help alleviate children’s anxiety about visits to the doctor. Kingston University product and furniture design student Michelle Taite has created a set of child-friendly medical aids which she hopes will become a regular feature in GP’s surgeries and paediatric wards. Called MediMates, the range includes a stethoscope with two earpieces allowing both young patients and doctors to monitor heartbeat and breathing, a neuro hammer to test leg reflexes and an opthalmoscope for eye examinations.

A routine visit to her doctor gave Michelle the inspiration for the equipment, which she created using zoomorphic shapes to give each item an animal-like appearance. “I was sitting in the waiting room and it struck me how nervous the children seemed in such an unfamiliar environment,” Michelle explained. “I wanted to find a way to eliminate that fear and make the doctors appear more approachable.”

The 25 year old set to work mindful that she not only needed to come up with concepts that had close connections with children’s understanding of the world around them but would also win parents’ confidence and provide a fully functional alternative for doctors. She collaborated with medical staff in London, Boston and Tel Aviv to research the attitudes of young patients aged between two and five and the health professionals caring for them before testing prototypes of her designs on the same sample group. “During my research and testing I found the children were more inclined to relax when they encountered an implement that seemed familiar, while the tools still proved practical enough for the medical specialists using them,” Michelle said. Following her recent move to Boston, Michelle has already approached major American toy manufacturer the RC2 Corporation in a bid to stimulate interest in her ideas.

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