February 22nd, 2019

Local surgeon’s book helps children with hospital anxiety

By Purcell, Dylan on September 6, 2018.

Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Carrie Kollias with her new childrens book ÒMarias Marvelous Bones,Ó which helps children understand the different rolls and devices used when visiting the hospital for an injury. Herald photo by Greg Bobinec

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald


When a child breaks or fractures a bone, usually the injury and the experience of visiting the hospital can be overwhelming and can trigger anxiety.

Helping ease the trauma before or to help children have a better understanding afterward is a new children’s book called “Maria’s Marvelous Bones.”

The story follows a young girl by the name of Maria who falls and breaks her arm. Her father rushes her to the hospital, where she gets to meet everyone from the nurses, doctor, X-ray technician, and everyone else responsible for healing her fractured arm. Along the way Maria learns about how her body works and how bones heal, with an inspiring part about being brave.

Author of the book is Dr. Carrie Kollias, an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in the treatment of children at the Chinook Regional Hospital. Kollias says she had the idea for an educational children’s book about bones a decade ago when she was in her residency, but with the busy schedule of a doctor, she only started working on it a couple of years ago.

“When I was a resident in Calgary 10 years ago I would see kids coming in over and over with fractures and broken bones, and nothing was really there to prepare them,” says Kollias. “I thought ‘why don’t we make a children’s book where we can actually give them some accurate information that is in a comforting narrative to make the process easier and less anxiety provoking.'”

The book was illustrated with soft, colourful pictures by professional children’s illustrator Gill Guile, which depict a wide range of ethnic backgrounds that show the different roles professionals play.

Kollias says the push for more diversity in the medical field is needed, and showing kids an example of someone corresponding to their life in a different position can help encourage kids to imagine more possibilities on who they could be when they grow up.

“There is a move that we need more diversity in our profession, in especially surgery, and a lot of kids can’t imagine themselves doing that unless they have seen an example,” says Kollias. “I was very fortunate to work with Gill on this project, she is an experienced illustrator who understood my desire for medical accuracy as well as my goal of showing diversity in members of the health-care team. Some of the characters in the book are real people, which she captured amazingly.”

Kollias found a way to make bones seem cool and interesting to kids, without the medical language being overwhelming for them. The narrative is written at a self-reading level for Grades 3 to 4 level, with an appropriate language for younger ages.

“Maria’s Marvelous Bones” is available at the Chinook Regional Hospital gift shop and all of the proceeds sold from the book will go toward the Chinook Regional Hospital Foundation. The book can also be purchased through online book stores.

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