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Use of restraints


St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital staff members work to provide comfort, security, and safety to your child in the least restrictive ways possible. There may be a time when we need to restrict your child’s freedom of movement for his own safety or to prevent your child from hurting himself or others.

What are restraints?

Restraints are devices that limit or restrict freedom of movement. They are used when other ways to keep your child safe do not work. Usually, they are soft, foam ties that are secured to the bed in a way that keeps your child from removing them. They are tied in a way that allows staff members to easily remove them when needed. The nurse will monitor your child closely to make sure that he is safe. These are some things that your nurse will do to care for your child while restraints are used:

  • Check your child’s vital signs, circulation (blood flow), and physical and mental status
  • Make sure your child gets the nutrition (food) and fluids he needs
  • Allow time for range-of-motion exercises for each arm and leg
  • Ensure that your child has plenty of bathroom breaks
  • Watch for signs of any injury that might be related to the restraint

Why would restraints be used and are there other ways to keep my child safe?

Your child’s safety is our primary concern. Sometimes illness, injury, or medicines can cause a child to be confused. If your child is in danger of hurting himself or others, there are things we can do to help keep him safe.

These are some things that might be tried before using restraints:

  • Moving objects away from the bedside
  • Turning on lights
  • Sitting with the patient or asking family members if they can sit with your child
  • Reorienting your child to the surroundings

How long will my child need restraints?

Restraints are always removed as soon as your child is safe without them. When it is decided that your child is safe without restraints, the staff will remove them right away. If you have questions about restraints, please talk to your child’s doctor or nurse.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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