Huggable, the Robot Bear who Connects Emotionally with Childhood Cancer Patients
Children with Cancer fight a battle that they should not have to, and most of them are strong Little Fighters who never REALLY show how they are feeling about what they are going through.
Many of these amazing children try to stay strong for their families and their friends; being strong on the outside but suffering terribly on the inside in ways that their families and support group can see, but are powerless to do anything about.
The stress of treatment could cause a range of chronic problems, from phobia and anxiety for minor medical procedures, such as blood taking, to panic attack under difficult conditions. This view is further supported by studies focused on stress in children during the treatment for cancer. [Source: Medscape]
On the contrary, other studies suggest that even though the nursing and medical staff perceive more patient distress, the self-reported anxiety in children with cancer is low.
Approximately 20% of Children with Cancer are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and many more suffer from various emotional problems in school, in relationships, and beyond, even long AFTER they beat cancer.
Huggable is a blue and green robot teddy bear specifically designed and developed by Dr Cynthia Breazeal and her team at the MIT Media Lab to emotionally connect with and relieve pain and anxiety for children who are hospitalised for extended periods in ICU, or for cancer treatment. It has a cute kids voice that appeals to children with cancer and makes the feel at ease with it.
Huggable is one of a growing group of therapeutic robots being designed globally, and operates on an Android app that can signal emotions in its movement and can tell when you’re touching it.
Huggable is currently part of a pilot study at Boston Children’s Hospital to evaluate whether the robot can help relieve children’s anxiety in the hospital. It is being operated by an expert Child Life Specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Under the pilot study, the young patients interact with Huggable in their rooms. They shake his paw, tell him jokes (he claims to not know any), and play I Spy with him.
Watching this video, one tends to marvel not so much at the little guy’s movements, though they are certainly adorable, but at his smarts. Huggable refers to others in the room by name, and makes clever guesses when Aurora, the patient, tells him she spies something blue (hint, it’s not him). Turns out, his behaviours and conversation are controlled by a so-called Wizard-of-Oz operator on a nearby laptop. You can read about the study design here. [Source: Wired.com]
Huggable Robot Befriends Girl in Hospital Video
Personal Robots Group: M.I.T. Media Lab
Kris Dos Santos
Dr. Cynthia Breazeal http://media.mit.edu/people/cynthiab
Boston Children’s Hospital research team http://bostonchildrenshospital.org :
Dr. Deirdre Logan
Dr. Peter Weinstock http://simpeds.org
The Little Fighters Cancer Trust loves this idea and sincerely hopes that Huggable will enter the market soon and that it will also be available to our Little Fighters in South Africa, as they really would benefit from this little bear.
MIT we Salute You
Posted on 26 June, 2015, in Blog, Research, Videos and tagged anxiety in children, Boston Children’s Hospital, cancer treatment, childhood cancer, Children with Cancer, Cynthia Breazeal, Huggable, LFCT, Little Fighters, Little Fighters Cancer Trust, MIT. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.