Managing the unique size-related issues of pediatric resuscitation: reducing cognitive load with resuscitation aids

Acad Emerg Med. 2002 Aug;9(8):840-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2002.tb02175.x.


A resuscitation is a complicated event that requires for its optimal outcome the effective completion of a distinct series of actions, some simple, some complex, most occurring simultaneously or in close proximity. In children, these actions are determined not only by the clinical situation, but also by a series of age and size factors particular to each child. Different tasks require different levels of cognitive load, or mental effort. Cognitive load describes the mental burden experienced by the decision maker and will be higher when the task is less familiar or more demanding. In the setting of resuscitation, it refers to the cumulative demands of patient assessment, the ongoing decisions for each of the various steps, and decisions around procedural intervention (e.g., intubation). In children, the level of task complexity and, hence, cognitive load is increased by the unique component of variability of pediatric age and size, introducing logistical factors, many of which involve computations. The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of age/size-related variables on the pediatric resuscitative process and to explore how these effects can be mitigated using resuscitation aids. The concept of cognitive load and its relation to performance in resuscitation is introduced and is used to demonstrate the effect of the various aids in the pediatric resuscitative process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition*
  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Resuscitation / methods*