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Everyday things that illustrate heart function: making heart function interactive at home

Austin E. Wilmot, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.

Not everyone has a model of a heart laying around. And, even if you have one, it might not be the best tool to help show your child how their heart actually works or what is not working properly. This article is meant to give you a jumpstart on some ideas that might come in handy. Of course, if you have other ideas or activities to share, feel free to reach out and they can be added to this article.

Drawings are helpful, however in this article we are focused on real-world ways of building understanding that can be seen and touched.

Again, art has its place, but what could we use around the house to... demonstrate the concept that blood flowing through the aorta with a narrowing might not flow as easily?

Perhaps we can use a hose and kink it--showing the difference that kinking and unkinking makes and talk about what the surgeon's repair procedure would look like on a hose.

A faucet could be used to show a valve opening/closing by switching the water on and off. Perhaps a leaky faucet could demonstrate the concern of valve regurgitation and one of the important things their doctor monitors at their appointments. Also, sinks calcify and so do valves.

Could floss be like stitches for an upcoming procedure? Finding ways to associate the elements of upcoming procedures with everyday things and concepts will help prepare the child and build a foundation that can be built on over time.

Think about your child's heart and past/present procedures. What can you use around the house to help simplify cardiac function into everyday things?

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