Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Family and Consumer Sciences

First Advisor

Robin Millar

Second Advisor

Kara Woodshank


Play is an essential component that positively impacts child development both emotionally and physically. Hospitalization of a child can negatively impact development, but play can serve as a buffer to help foster the development of hospitalized children. Theorists such as Vygotsky and Piaget, have laid the framework on the importance of using play to foster the developmental growth of a child physically and cognitively through gross motor and makebelieve play (Miller, 2011). Play is important in the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical growth during early childhood (Milteer & Gingsburg, 2012). During hospitalization children may experience stress, lack of mobility, and a change in their routines that can negatively impact their developmental growth through regression or withdraw (Li, Chung, Ho, Kwok, 2016). Encouraging play while the child is in the hospital will allow for the child to develop cognitively through interactions with peers and by using a higher level of mental functioning through the use of imaginary play. Physical development of the child can be reached through the use of gross motor and fine motor activities in the play rooms of hospitals or at the bedside of children.

This literature review aims to highlight on the importance of play in child development, and how play can positively promote growth in the hospital setting. In order to address the importance, theory, types of play, developmental milestones, the impact of hospitalization, and supports will all be discussed. After comparison of studies on the impacts of hospitalization on children and literature, the conclusion can be made that play does positively impact the growth of a child mentally and physically even through the negative impacts of hospitalization. To further educate on the importance of play, hospital staff and family members of children in the hospital should be informed on how their support can help a child in the hospital continue to play in order to reach their developmental milestones.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted