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Children arrive at the pediatric emergency department at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in pain and confusion. Their clothes are frequently cut off to assess profound injuries, and tubes, stitches, needles, catheters and scopes can all be part of lifesaving medical interventions.
To help children cope with the trauma of emergency treatment and call upon their innate reservoirs of courage, Johns Hopkins Children's Department of Child Life staff set out to help them play the superhero or other imaginary role. With donated funds, Child Life purchased superhero capes and tutus, which specialists now give to boys and girls to help them through their ED stay or to send them on their way home or to the hospital, with recognition of their bravery.
“The ‘bravery capes’ are extremely important because when the patients put them on they are believing that they can and will be strong and use their own super powers to overcome their fears to get through painful procedures,” says Ryan Fessler, Child Life specialist in the pediatric emergency department. “The ‘mighty tutus’ have a similar effect, in helping children imagine a better world beyond the ED. Both help patients psychologically through difficult procedures. Children can then continue to use them during any future stressful situations.”
Given the pediatric emergency department at Johns Hopkins Children’s is the designated pediatric trauma service for the Maryland region, demand for the capes and tutus frequently outstrips supplies. Medical insurance, of course, does not cover the costs of such items, so the hospital’s supplies are maintained through individual and corporate donations. To contribute to the Fund for Bravery Capes and Mighty Tutus, contact Alicia Spitznagel, in the Office of Development.