Use of electronic media in a pediatric palliative aquatics program: Legacy, teaching, research and caveats


Use of electronic media in a pediatric palliative aquatics program: Legacy, teaching, research and caveats


Pyatt S; Fisher J M






awareness; brother; California; child; conference abstract; documentation; face; female; grief; hearing; heat; hot water; human; literature; male; memory; motion; palliative therapy; pediatrics; photography; physician; sound; teacher; teaching; touch; videorecording; voice


Program Goals: Appropriate use of electronic media in a pediatric palliative care setting enhances a family's experience of care given to their child over time and assists in the grieving process. Here we explore multiple uses of electronic media in a pediatric palliative aquatics program operating within a pediatric palliative care facility in California. Evaluation: Electronic media has changed many facets of daily life, including providing palliative care to medically fragile children. Its use provides families with an "electronic biography" of their child and offers siblings a connection to a brother or sister who might have died before their birth. Oral histories are further supported with video data, thereby providing families with an enduring legacy. Loved ones unable to be present at events in "real time" can enjoy the electronic version of the child's experience. The legacy created in this manner exists beyond the grief of the present moment, extending into a time when painful memories become muted, allowing families to remember joyful events in the child's life. Families can photograph and video the child's responses to aquatic sessions, documenting movements and abilities virtually impossible for the child on land. Information can be shared with pediatric care practitioners using electronic media, providing them with detailed documentation of the patient's responses and enhanced abilities during warm water sessions. Consent is always obtained prior to facility use. As always, precautions against inappropriate use of electronic media during aquatics sessions must be assured. Public use of specific photos and film are sensitively screened for appropriateness. In researching program outcomes, the child ultimately becomes both subject and teacher during palliative aquatic sessions. Individual patient responses to sessions can be documented over time, allowing researchers opportunities to observe in slow motion subtle reactions of the patient to movement and touch. The aquatic practitioner-trainees' sense of touch, sight and hearing becomes more acute as s/he observes a child's facial and body reactions to movement, warmth, water pressure and sound. In our ongoing work of training new practitioners, appropriate use of electronic media and careful documentation of sessions has become one of our most valuable teaching tools.


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Pyatt S; Fisher J M, “Use of electronic media in a pediatric palliative aquatics program: Legacy, teaching, research and caveats,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed October 3, 2023,