Texas Tech University

Mother-Daughter Team Brings Innovation to Pediatric Clinical Settings

TTU Office of Communications & Marketing

February 22, 2021

Jenny and Molly Johnston are using technology and communication aids to help children facing uncertain medical procedures.

When Molly Johnston began her educational career in the field of child life specialty, she never expected her senior thesis to become an entrepreneurial opportunity for both her and her mother, Jenny.

Bridgescripts is a mobile device application utilized in clinical settings to assist children and families to understand medical procedures with the goal of reducing associated stress and anxiety. These scripts are presented through developmentally appropriate animation and language for children to understand the extent of medical procedures and testing and are tailored to the development of a particular child.

For example, Bridgescripts will present the information so that a 4-year-old getting an MRI will have the information presented differently than a 9-year-old.

"The project combined both mine and Molly's fields of communication disorders and child life specialty," Jenny Johnston said. "My experience in using social stories as communication aids, coupled with her knowledge of how to diminish psychological effects of hospitalized children, is used to help reduce stress and anxiety in pediatric patients. After receiving feedback from friends, family and colleagues, we were encouraged to turn the idea into reality.

"Molly would often volunteer at the pediatric clinic where I worked and realized early on she had a passion for medically complex children and those with developmental delays. Molly discovered the field of child life fit her personal professional criteria, and she has pursued opportunities to engage in the field as a volunteer at Covenant Children's Hospital for several years. She recently completed her practicum at Covenant, is pursuing her graduate degree and is looking forward to completing an internship next fall.."

Historically, social stories have been used within the autism community to aid in describing and predicting specific situations, then offering positive ways in which autistic individuals might respond. This system of scripts also can be utilized with neuro-typical, or typically developing children to reduce anxiety and fear often associated with unfamiliar medical procedures.

The dynamic of a mother-daughter relationship adds to the success of the project. With each team member bringing different strengths, the relationship proves to be positive as the business model develops.

"Molly and I have a unique and special relationship," Jenny Johnston said. "We genuinely enjoy working together and decided early on that this project's goal was ultimately to help children. With that as our focus, it has been easy to combine our efforts and move forward with the project. When areas of development get difficult, considering that neither of us have a business or technology background, we encourage each other to be 'stretchy' and willing to learn something new."