If you could remove or greatly reduce the pain your child feels when getting needles without medication would you? Well, you can! Learn a simple technique that can remove your child’s pain without medication. Advocated by child psychologists, this technique is used by some of the world’s leading paediatric hospitals and medical practitioners to remove pain in paediatrics without medication. Sounds almost too good to be true… it’s not. It is a clinically researched and recommended technique that for some crazy unknown reason has failed to gain widespread popularity. It works!
What is this magical technique?
Well I’m glad you asked! It’s called the magic glove.
The magic glove technique is a therapeutic tool championed by Dr. Leora Kuttner, a child psychologist based in Vancouver, Canada. It uses the child’s focussed attention and imagination to change the sensations felt in the area where the magic glove is placed – sometimes to the point of feeling numb! The magic glove empowers the child and gives them control over their pain. Dr. Kuttner has also noticed that the magic glove technique not only reduces pain but also has a positive effect on a child’s anxiety around a procedure as well.
What can I say? I’m a big fan of Dr. Kuttner.
Which procedures should I consider using the magic glove for?
The magic glove can be used for any injection type procedures. This includes:
- Blood taking
- Intramuscular injections including vaccinations
- Intravenous cannula insertions (IV)
Will it definitely work on my child?
There is no guarantee that the magic glove will work for your child, however there is no harm in trying! When it does work, it works like… err… magic?
There are recommended ages though! If your child is between 3 and 12 years of age, you have a better chance of this working. You just need to use words that they understand and connect with.
You can also use the magic glove along with topical anaesthetics. These are known by a few different names such as Angel Cream, EMLA, Amethocaine Gel and so on. In Australia, you can buy EMLA and probably Angel Cream at your local pharmacy for around $20. I’m unsure about other countries though so check with your local pharmacist but please make sure you have a chat with your medical doctor about using it to make sure it is safe for your child first.
Where should I put the magic glove?
The glove can be used anywhere on the body. You can get really creative and put a magic sock or stocking on them! You can also ‘transfer’ the magic glove to their abdomen. You are only limited by your imagination and your child’s.
How does the magic glove work?
To put the ‘magic glove’ on, you need to help the child to use their imagination. I start by telling them I have a magic glove that I’d like to show them. I tell them that it should give them some comfort and, in the words of Dr. Leora Kuttner, “so that you will know what is happening but not be bothered by the procedure. It can help you change how your *insert body area* feels”.
Then you pull the magic glove out of your pocket and start putting it on by stroking the hand and fingers upwards. If you are putting a glove on, then make sure you stroke each finger from the tip of the finger to the palm like you are putting each finger into the fingers of the glove. Encourage the child to relax by telling them to ‘relax (your) hand in mine… make it floppy’. You should be taking the full weight of their whole arm while holding their hand in yours. Stroke each finger, their palm, and the back of the hand 5 to 8 times slightly firm and with warmth.
To support their sensory focus, talk about what you are doing as you do it. You can say something like, ‘This glove can protect you. You will know what is happening but you won’t be bothered by it… We should make sure it’s nice and comfortable… as it goes on, you will notice how it changes how much you feel there, you won’t be bothered by anything… notice how protected your *insert body part* feels.’
When you are finished putting the glove on, gently squeeze the top of the arm to let them know that the magic glove is in place. Then you say, ‘Now that your magic glove is on, you will notice that you won’t be as bothered as you used to be..’
To test the magic glove…
Get a sharp pencil and take the hand without the magic glove. Press the tip onto the back of the hand 3 times and tell them, ‘This is normal sensation because you don’t have a magic glove on this hand. So that’s a 10.’
Then move to the hand with the magic glove on. Do the same with the pencil on this hand while applying the exact same pressure. Ask the child to rate the pain out of 10. Anything 5 or under is fantastic. They will often start with a higher number so respond with, ‘Let’s just make sure the glove is on nice and snug.’ Then repeat the hand strokes 3 or 4 times and test again. Always respond with ‘good’ no matter what their number is (unless they say 10 of course!).
Now that the magic glove is in place, let your child know ‘(We) will now do the procedure and you will notice the difference.’ Refer to the magic glove while the procedure is being performed. ‘Notice how your glove protects you!’
Now to get the best results from the process, distraction really enhances the effect! I talk more about how to implement simple distraction therapy in my ebook, ‘Supporting a child through injections’.
Wait! It’s not over!
The magic glove technique can be such a powerful tool that if not taken off children can be stuck with a numbing sensation. Don’t worry, removing it is easy. You do this by stroking the hand in the reverse to what you did when putting it on. Remind the child that you are taking the glove off so you can keep it safe in your pocket. You can also get them to pretend to wash their hands as this will help to normalise their sensations again. Continue to do this until your child reports that their sensation is the same as the other hand again.
Until next time…
P.S. This is a video of Dr. Leora Kuttner doing the magic glove technique. It’s worth the watch as it shows you how to do it and what tone of voice to use.