As the COVID-19 vaccination continues, the phobia of needles manifests itself. It is a problem for which, at the moment, we only have one way to solve: through exposure and psychological treatment. However, now three students of Industrial Design Engineering and Product Development from the Universitat Jaume I have won the national James Dyson Award for Spain with their invention called Pinsoft. But What is needle phobia (also known outside the psychological realm as trypanophobia)? How does Pinsoft help those who suffer from it?
The fear of needles is contemplated in the MSD-V, the bedside manual of psychologists, as a specific phobic disorder. The phobia of needles, like blood or damage, have to do “with a specific stimulus that scares us,” the psychologist explains to CVBJ.biz Elena Montero. “That is to say, we attribute the perception to a stimulus that it is dangerous when it is not. An injection in itself is not dangerous; But if our brain thinks that it is, it has an exaggerated fear reaction, as if we were facing something that really endangers our lives. ”
The body’s response to needle phobia
And that symptom appear with trypanophobia? In general, phobias act on us in the same way: “The body in the face of danger prepares to defend itself: the heart beats faster and carries more blood to the cells, you breathe faster … “, indicates from the other side of the Montero telephone line. However, with the phobia of blood, injections and damage it is not like this. “People who have a phobia of blood, needles, or wounds they can fade really because an excessive vasovagal reflex produces bradycardia and orthostatic hypotension, which does not happen in people who have other phobias or anxiety disorders, “indicates the MSD-V.
Unlike what happens with other phobias, people with trypanophobia can have a vasovagal response and eventually pass out.
“This means that although first the body accelerates a lot, because you think you are facing a dangerous situation from which you have to defend yourself, passes out before they prick him“, says the psychologist. And how are these types of situations handled?” Normally the most used technique is to physically tense; this prevents the vasovagal response from occurring. The person prepares to tighten the muscles so that it is incompatible with fainting, “he says.” The tension must be at the level of the muscles; not of thoughts. “
But on a mental level that tension cannot exist. You have to rationalize your thoughts. “The evaluation that must be done to be calm when they are going to puncture you is rational: that everything will go well, that it is something good for my body, that the pain is minimal and nothing happens, “says Montero.” And, just in case, my body reacts at a vasovagal level, what I do is tense my muscles. “
Pinsoft, the solution for people with trypanophobia?
Juan Carlos Espert has a phobia of needles. And this was what motivated him and his fellow racers Sofia Aparicio Ródenas and Laura Martinavarro to develop the Pinsoft concept. At the moment, he details CVBJ.biz by phone, there is no prototype made; but the idea has already won the national James Dyson Award for Spain and will now compete internationally.
A prize of 3,000 euros and the recognition that they have known how to find a possible solution to a problem that is very current due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to be vaccinated; that’s what Sofía, Laura and Juan Carlos take away. But What is Pinsoft about? Can it really help people with trypanophobia?
This is Pinsoft
Pinsoft is an object that has multiple rods in which the needle with which the injection is going to be given is hidden from view of the patient. The distraction, with the multiple rods pressing against the skin, it seems key to avoiding needle panic. You don’t know where they are going to prick you; although you do know that there will be an injection.
“We were watching some videos on the subject; we were struck by a doctor who distracted a child before vaccinating him.” The doctor’s distraction consisted of touching with the fingers in several different places of the body while singing or making sounds with the mouth. The noise is distracting, but the stimulation of the finger against the body is also necessary because it is similar to what the needle will do. “It also made us think a lot that there are people with a phobia of needles who do not have that same fear of tattooing“Adds Espert. Perhaps because a tattoo is not perceived as dangerous while, for example, having blood drawn is. All this was what gave the idea that Pinsoft has ended up being:
Sofía Aparicio Ródenas Laura Martinavarro and Juan Carlos Espert
Can it help people with needle phobia?
“It is necessary to understand that a psychologist is a help so that one can face the phobia”
Elena Montero, psychologist
But Can it really be a help for people with phobia? For Montero it is a good idea. “It can help. In the fear reaction to the feeling of being hurt or damaged, if the stimulus (the needle) is not perceived entering and the pain that it produces can facilitate coping with the situation.” “For overcome a phobia, you have to face the situation and realize that it really is not dangerous, “adds the psychologist.
And this should be done both through exposure to the phobia and through a psychological accompaniment: “I recommend psychological treatment for these cases. It is necessary to understand that a psychologist is an aid so that one can face the phobia”. Furthermore, “underneath phobias of this type there is usually a feeling of vulnerability; that is to say, I believe that my body is more vulnerable and that I can suffer a lot and even lose my life; I feel like they can attack my health more easily than is really possible, “he says.
In short, while someone is interested in developing Pinsoft and reaches hospitals and health centers; the best way to overcome needle phobia is to confront it. And if it can be with psychological support, it will always be much better, because we will change the ideas that underlie trypanophobia.