Frankie, aged 8, from Nottingham, has started to overcome her extreme fear of hospitals thanks to play.

Frankie has an extremely rare condition called Acrodysostosis PDE4D variant, which is a form of dwarfism and affects most of her body, including her brain, eyes, lungs, jaw, heart, limbs, stomach, hearing and bowels. 

This means she is in and out of hospital constantly and has a total of 27 consultants involved with her complex care.

Since her diagnosis in 2018, she has undergone a huge range of procedures including three brain surgeries, scans, lumbar punctures, and blood tests.

Spending significant time in hospital and having regular emergency procedures has led to undoubtable trauma. It has meant Frankie could not even have a blood test without general anaesthetic. 

Frankie was then referred to Jamie-Lee, a health play specialist and Starlight Health Play Champion, who transformed her healthcare experience in only 6 months.

"Without a doubt, Frankie was the most traumatised child I have ever worked with. Until we began working with her, everything had to be done under general anaesthetic. Frankie is needle phobic and every single aspect of her care was distressing for her, her family and the medical team looking after her. It’s no wonder she was so traumatised," explains Jamie-Lee, the Play Specialist Lead.

"But within six months of using play to build trust, Frankie was transformed. The specialist training and play resources we get from Starlight have all been so useful for me. They are especially important when it comes to really challenging situations like Frankie’s. 

"After just six months of using therapeutic play with Frankie, the results have been amazing. I’m so proud of her. She can now go for an MRI scan on her own – a far cry from the little girl I first met when she was screaming from behind a curtain on the children’s ward."

Play makes Frankie feel in control of her situation and brings her back down to a level where she is able to cope with whatever the medical team need to do. 

To know our child can now lay in a scanner without panicking and moving due to distress is amazing. It also means she can spend less time in a hospital setting. I strongly believe without play, hospital for children would be so much worse.

Kimberley, Frankie's mum

Starlight supports hospitals across the country by sending in boxes of play equipment. This means children, like Frankie, can have the opportunity to play which reduces trauma and supports their mental health.

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