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Man's best friend puts young patients at ease

Four-year-old “Jake” wails as he crumples into a corner. Ten feet away looms a large, box-like machine, a CT scanner. For the last half hour, Jake's parents, a Child Life specialist and a CT technician at Penn State Children's Hospital, have been trying to both comfort and convince Jake to lie down on the scanner's table at the machine's center. “Look,” they say softly, “the table goes in and out of the tunnel like a train.” Their coaxing is not soothing Jake. Will Jake, like other young children, require anesthesia before they can perform this test?

“Kaia,” a pediatric radiologist suggests. “Let's try Kaia.”

Two years ago, when Kaia arrived at the Children's Hospital, the canine became the first facility dog ever in a Pennsylvania children's hospital, and the Facility Dog Program began. “Having Kaia,” says Ashley Kane, Child Life Program manager at the Children's Hospital and Kaia's handler, who first proposed the idea of getting a facility dog, “makes such a difference.”

Read more on this Penn State Medicine story.

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