DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A Cincinnati nurse has invented a first-of-its-kind video game to help ease kids’ anxiety before surgery.

Abby Hess is a nurse practitioner at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital who saw how anxious kids were before operations and wanted to change that.

This led her to inventing EZ Induction, a breathing controlled video game app used when it is time to put on the anesthesia mask.

When the child puts on the mask and starts to breathe in and out, they win different challenges in the engaging animal-themed world of the game. The child learns how to play the game in a preoperative area, and then is offered the opportunity to play the final level when they go back to the operating room to fall asleep for surgery, according to a release from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

“Many young patients become anxious when an anesthesia mask is placed over their face in the operating room,” Hess said. “We wanted to find a way to make this a lot easier for kids, and I had this idea of what if we could practice with breathing into the mask before we go back to the operating room.”

“The game shifts the focus from something scary to something that’s calming and fun,” Hess added. “It easily engages kids, teaches them to breathe calmly, and lets them know what to expect when they go back to the operating room. Seeing their child engage with the game also helps parents feel at ease and provides them with a novel way to coach their child during the process.”

Hess works closely with kids about to undergo surgery through her role with the Department of Anesthesia at Cincinnati Children’s, and she also spends time focused on research.

She noted that each year, thousands of kids at Cincinnati Children’s and millions elsewhere across the country are given anesthesia for surgery.

A Columbus firm has licensed the right to market the tablet-based computer application to other hospitals.

More information about EZ Induction can be found here.