Liz is a mom of three whose youngest son was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) at age five. To manage his UC he takes Humira injections, which are known to be painful. Liz remembers vividly how stressful and difficult it was to get past the pain and anxiety on injection day. The process of negotiating would take nearly an hour, and when the shot was finally given everyone was totally drained. Not willing to accept that this was just the way it had to be, Liz started researching and discovered Buzzy - a device that distracts from injection pain by confusing nerves with both temperature and vibration.


For Liz’s son and the whole family, Buzzy was a “game-changer” that helped by reducing pain and wasted time, calming nerves and restoring a sense of control. It’s now been four years since they discovered Buzzy, and Liz says her son still uses it every time he receives his Humira injection.

Liz knew firsthand that Buzzy was a good thing for her family, but wondered if others would feel the same way. She and the IBD Parent Partners at Riley Hospital for Children organized a project to find out if Buzzy could help other young patients with IBD and their families.

This was a parent-led project. Prior to ImproveCareNow I think there was a bit of a disconnect between what was happening in clinic and what was happening at home. I was able to bring the story of what happened in my home to the forefront (negotiating for 45 mins; pain and fear during injections; the relief after using Buzzy) and use that experience to create a project to potentially help others. - Liz

Through their year-long project, funded by the philanthropic group Women for Riley, the team was able to distribute 82 Deluxe Buzzy Kits, free of charge, to families of children with IBD. Of those 82 families, 33 completed a survey about their experience using Buzzy. Thanks to the surveys, the Riley IBD Parent Partners have documented a ~70% decrease in pain score associated with injections/infusions. Patients rated pain at 7.8 before Buzzy and 2.4 after Buzzy, using the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale.

Other observations made throughout the project include:

  1. 80% of Humira users approached, accepted a Buzzy kit
  2. 50% of Remicade users approached, accepted a Buzzy kit
  3. Teenage males were more likely to decline a Buzzy kit
  4. Families expressed gratitude for the offer of Buzzy, whether they accepted a kit or not

I asked Liz what’s next for Buzzy. She said there are still approximately 30 kits left to be distributed at Riley. She and the other parent volunteers consider Buzzy a part of their “toolkit” now, and it is a joy to be able to offer this valuable tool to a patient/family struggling with needle phobia or medication transition.

Liz remembers one opportunity to share Buzzy in particular, "I was in a clinic mentoring situation with a patient for whom a change to Humira had just been recommended. The patient had just received this recommendation at the appointment and was preparing to head to the lab to have blood drawn. I knew because of the numbing cream on both arms. [The patient's] Dad turned to me and said that there was a needle phobia and they had many questions about Humira. I was able to offer them Buzzy and I could see the immediate relief in their faces."

Liz had a very personal reason to try Buzzy; and for her family it was a game-changer. Now that this project is complete, she and the team at Riley feel confident recommending Buzzy as a tool to help patients and families. They hope others can learn from their experience. If your center is interested in stealing shamelessly from what Liz’s team has learned and developed during their Buzzy project, send us a message so we can connect you.


Related Posts: Buzzy - a small tool to help in a big way!


Improvement, Discovery & Innovation in ImproveCareNow

ImproveCareNow participants practice an “all teach, all learn” collaborative approach to medicine. When patients, parents, clinicians, researchers & improvers work together in this way it allows new ideas and best practices to be identified and introduced into the care delivery process much faster—improving care for young patients with IBD now. Interested in learning more – join our circle >>

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