‘Buzzy’ Device Reduces Pain And Anxiety For Kids Getting Shots At Hospital

Child at hospital receives shot with Buzzy to reduce painAs a Child Life Specialist in the Clinical Care Center, I work with patients of all ages and health care experiences, usually undergoing a number of procedures. From brain surgery to cast removal, to… a common thread among many of these kiddos lies in 1 anxious question — “Do I have to get a shot?”

This is why I take such great pleasure in telling families and co-workers about a device supported by published research as well as surveys from Texas Children’s Hospital patients and families that makes those unwanted “pokes,” “shots” and “needles” easier. You can call him by his given name in our Allergy & Immunology Clinic “Buzzter” or by his trademark The Buzzy; but either way, this tickle bug makes a big difference for many of our patients and families.

Buzzy is a non-pharmacological pain control device that operates on the principals of the Gate Pain Control theory. Using vibration (his “buzz”) and cold (via his frozen wings), Buzzy engages the nerve fibers in a way that can help “interrupt” a pain signal en route to the brain.

In other words, as I tell my preschool age patients, this tickle bug keeps your “feelers” VERY BUSY feeling his cold wings and his tickly body, so that you don’t feel the “pinch/poke” feeling as much.

Buzzy for shots at hospitalBut please, don’t take my word for it! Research has shown that Buzzy reduces patient-reported pain and anxiety from children ages 4 and older. It has also been determined that experimental groups who used the Buzzy had a higher IV start success rate (Baxter, Cohen & VonBaeyer 2011). Also, a study focused on blood draws reported no negative impact when utilizing Buzzy during a blood draw, while still finding the same positive effects in anxiety and pain levels (Inal & Kelleci 2012).

If you’re interested in reading more about Buzzy research, check out their website.

While the experience of an injection (whether for a blood draw, IV start or vaccination) is rather common in childhood… for many of our patients, it is also a deal breaker. It hurts! And usually patients cannot quite fathom its benefit or immediately experience its worth.

This is what makes the opportunity to use Buzzy so incredible. It can help prevent or limit a pain experience that commonly comes between families and a positive coping experience with a health care encounter. And the best part is it doesn’t require a medical license, training or even background to utilize it. Place Buzzy “between the pain and the brain,” and turn him on! Buzzy can be held by a nurse, phlebotomist, Child Life Specialist, Mom, Dad or even the patient himself.

Buzzy is still fairly new to Texas Children’s Hospital, but he is a busy little guy and is making his way around! Many of the Child Life Specialists have access to one and many of the outpatient clinics, west tower inpatient floors, and even pathology labs are beginning to order them to have on hand. Bee on the watch out for this tiny but mighty little helper bug!


About Lindsay Hoogner, Child Life Specialist

I have the honor and privilege of serving patients and families as a Child Life Specialist in the Clinical Care Center.

My job is to help decrease some of the mystery and anxiety that sometimes accompanies a trip to the clinic, with play and teaching. I am lucky to serve as co-advisor to our Children’s Advisory Board. I have a Master of Arts in Human Development & Family Studies and I teach “The Hospitalized Child,” a course at San Jacinto Community College.

Posted in Child Life, Parenting

5 Responses to ‘Buzzy’ Device Reduces Pain And Anxiety For Kids Getting Shots At Hospital

  1. Pam says:

    Hi! Perfect timing for this post…do you konw if these are avaiailbe in pediatricians offices – i would love to use them for my twin daughter’s 4 year check-up – i understand they get 3 shots each (ouch!!) and this would certainly calm them down! any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated!

    • Lindsay Hoogner, Child Life Specialist Lindsay Hoogner, Child Life Specialist says:

      Great question! And thank you to Dr. Amy for her beautiful answer. I would say about half of my patients that I offer the Buzzy to are seeing him for the first time immediately prior to their procedure. However, I make sure they have the opportunity to play with/ handle/ test him out before any of the stress points (i.e. the nurse walking in with her tray) begin.

      A couple of other tricks to get your kiddos through an injection:
      * Have them practice taking big deep breaths and “blowing their ouchies” away. If you can, pack a bottle of bubbles in your pocket and have them “blow the ouchies away.” If there are no bubbles around, singing a song or blowing so that you make “mom’s hair move” are all ways to keep them breathing and their body relaxed. Breathing in and blowing out right as the “pinch” or “poke” part happens seems to work best. Tell them, pretend to smell a flower, and then blow out birthday candles!
      * Providing them with something else to look at or a task to accomplish can be very effective. (We in the “biz” call it alternative focus.) Playing “I Spy” with things in the room, saying the alphabet or the pledge of allegiance or counting (by 1s, 2s, 5s) can all work to “keep their mind” busy.
      * I always like to provide a child with “jobs” (hold your body still, take deep breaths) and a “result.” (When you’re done, we’ll go home and eat lunch!)
      * Ask the nurses about the option of allowing your child to remain in your lap, sit beside you, or be in your proximity while sitting up. This can help them to feel more in control and less threatened.

      I hope this helps!

  2. Pingback: Pediatric News for 2/8/13 « doctorjsmith

  3. Dr. Amy says:

    Buzzy is available for 39.95 (free shipping) at Buzzy4shots.com. While about 500 pediatricians offices have them, Buzzy does better for kids if they have played with it, practiced, and know it’s a tickle bug friend that can help make the boosters better. When Buzzy is introduced immediately at the time of shots with little explanation, kids don’t get any of the relief of fear or drawing attention away from the poke, so the effect is much less strong in the 4-6 year olds. For teens introducing at the time of the shots works fine, but for your 4 year olds they may need more info to know Buzzy is their secret weapon.

  4. Desiree says:

    We love Buzzy! My son gets allergy shots very two weeks and we use Buzzy every single time. We’ve also used it for his skin prick tests and vaccines. We Love it so much that we bought another one.

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