State of the art sensory station at UPMC Children’s Harrisburg, helps kids during hospital stay


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A hospital stay can be terrifying to a child, all the more so, when they have autism or other intellectual challenges. UPMC has a brand new tool to help.

UPMC Children’s Harrisburg inpatient pediatric unit received the Vecta Deluxe Mobile Sensory Station last month.

“So the Vecta has a bubble tube, which you can see the balls and the beads going up into the column. You can change the speed of how fast they rise,” said Sandy Schreffler, lead Child Life Specialist.

You can even change the colors. The sensory station is designed to help calm kids with special needs or any child who’s anxious in a hospital.

“Anecdotal evidence of kids’ heart rates decreasing when they have this sensory station utilized,” Schreffler said.

It covers all the senses, except taste.

“So this provides the visual, the smell, tactile, as well as providing some control for kids who want to have some control over things in their environment,” Schreffler said.

It also has fiber optic cables, which change colors.

“And these are similar to, add some pressure, similar to a weighted blanket,” Schreffler said.

There’s a projector with calming scenes and an aromatherapy diffuser. It’s all to help kids breathe just a little easier during an already difficult time.

“If we can help them to cope in a more positive fashion, that’s taking a step towards helping them cope with healthcare experiences in the future,” Schreffler said.

While the sensory station is primarily used at the inpatient pediatric unit, it can be used anywhere throughout the hospital. It was provided by the UPMC Pinnacle Foundation’s Child Life Fund. Penn State Health Children’s Hospital has one of these units as well.

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