This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Approach to Improve Children’s Hospital Facilities by Incorporating a Play System with Stimuli that Allows for Imaginative Play to Aid in Children’s Development




Stowers, Louisa

Type of Degree



Industrial Design


Hospitalization can be traumatic for both children and their families. Children require play in children’s hospitals because it is beneficial for their development and crucial for their healing process. Incorporating play into a children’s hospital can be beneficial for two reasons: it helps children understand why they are in the hospital while acting as a therapist and leads children back to the healthy lifestyle they knew before hospitalization (Pellegrini). The main objective of this project is to create an approach for both designers and playground companies to use if they choose to create a play system in a children’s hospital environment. When children are playing in hospital playrooms, they are faced with many limitations. There are also limitations of the patients: many children are required to carry an IV, and others have varying handicaps, anything from a cast to a wheelchair. These limitations make it difficult for children to play, especially in a playground setting. Children’s hospitals are a special entity of their own. They were created because “Children are different. And they need different health care that focuses on their unique needs, involves their parents from start to finish and is provided in places designed to be kid-sized and child friendly” (NACHRI 3). While children’s hospitals offer multiple ways of play, outdoor play is an entity within itself that is not available to hospitalized children. An approach was created in order to guide others through the process of creating a play system in a children’s hospital. This approach was then followed by a design project that used the approach to create a play system modeled for Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. The project deliverable is a unique play structure that incorporates activities for the whole family, and in some way this system will also be an educational outlet for the child, parent and siblings. The objective is for the child to be able to use certain provided elements in order to be creative and make their own environment to play in. This play system will give children and their families a place to creatively express themselves and forget about their suffering in the hospital. The play system incorporates the criteria outlined in the approach to make a universally accessible playground that aids in children’s development.