Rawr is an interactive game-based mobile application designed for children diagnosed with cancer. A virtual, friendly monster accompanies the child throughout his entire treatment phase to ease essential medical procedures and help in enhancing the child's psychological and social well-being.
Each year almost 15,700 child get diagnosed with cancer, based on the conducted research 43 child aging between 1-14 get diagnosed with cancer each day. There are causes of cancer in children some are due to environmental factors and exposure to radiation, and some are external like smoking. Scientists started to understand how specific changes in the DNA inside the human cells can lead to their transformation into cancer cells. Few children inherit DNA changes from one of their parents; however, it is caused by the after effect of DNA changes that happen early in the child’s life or before his birth.
Any minor change or physical discomfort can be emotionally stressing on the child. Being diagnosed with cancer changes the child’s perception of having a normal life, it is a life threatening disease that has major impact on the child’s physical, psychological and social well being. Therefore, the child’s psychological and emotional state is essential during his treatment journey, and any change is his psychological state might lead to increasing the hospitalization duration.
Psychology of hospitalized children
The majority of the diagnosed children get hospitalized specifically children at the late stages of cancer and children with weak immune system, only a few get to return home with their parents after receiving their treatment session. Beside the severity of their cases, hospitalized children are very sensitive because they get away from their family and homes and stay in the hospital for a considerable duration of time. Based on the conducted research, the hospitalization could affect the child’s life on the long term mainly because of the separation of the child from his parents especially the mother, and the child attachment to his home and familiar environment. In some cases the parents are not allowed to visit their children due to their severe and fragile cases, and because of the medical radiations that are harmful for the normal body cells.
During the hospitalization period the child misses his life and practicing his favorite activities; therefore, play time is essential during this period. Play time greatly contributes to the physical and psychological well-being of the child and their recovery, it provides a way out of all the negative feelings and disappointments that may arise during the child’s hospitalization.
John Bowlby –a British psychologist and a pioneer in the child psychological development– stated in his theories that the effect of the separation between a child and his parent is divided into three main stages. They are protest, despair and detachment. Protest, the child openly reveals anger accompanied with crying and demanding for his parents’ return. Despair, the child’s protest decrease, yet he stays distracted with the expectation of the parents’ return. Detachment occurs when the separation is prolonged, in this stage the child shows indifference even when the parents return.
Other researchers confirmed that children expressed lower levels of distress if their parents visit daily, and almost no distress if they stayed with their children through the entire hospitalization period.
Doctors and nurses are always looking for innovative ways to understand how the child is feeling and minimize his pain. The medical staff needs a daily report from the child which includes questions like: where do you feel pain? How much does it hurt? How long does it last? The child opening up about pain is very personal and he feels uncomfortable to share and talk about his pain to others especially strangers. In addition to that, the child finds this process to be boring and exhausting. Thus, the child immediately loses interest and answers irresponsibly to get over with the report leading to inaccurate information.
A mobile application is designed for children diagnosed wth cancer. The app is a virtual friend that the child might play game with, express their pains to and complete the pain report. The gaming concept will encourage the child to use the application and accurately fill in their pain reports, and decrease their feeling of isolation.
It was to design child-friendly monsters and to test them. The monsters had to have all the body parts–head, torso, arms, and legs. All the six monsters share similar features as eyes, fangs and mouths; however, each monster is distinct from the other and has its own independent character and interests.