It’s a robot, designed to bring comfort to some of the youngest patients at Alberta Children’s Hospital.
A one-of-a-kind design, four child-like robots are being used to make some of the tribulations children at the facility have to endure, easier.
It’s name is MEDi (Medicine and Engineering Designing Intelligence), and creators have programmed it to mimic the actions of a child and to calm apprehensive patients.
“MEDi can speak in 20 languages and do different kinds of dances, demonstrate different kinds of movements we’d want children to do, tell jokes, stories, tell the child’s favourite story, play music and calming music,” said Dr. Tanya Beran, Professor of Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine.
They’ve used cognitive interventions they know work to help reduce pain and distract a child during their vaccination or check-up.
A recent study conducted by the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the University of Calgary looked at 57 children between the ages of 4 and 9.
It found those who interacted with the robots reported 50 per cent less pain compared to youngsters who received their vaccination with little or no distraction.
Nine year old Aidan Sousa is one of the patients who has been interacting with the robots and already he’s a big fan.
“I was pretty excited and surprised to see what he looked like and how kid friendly he looked,” he said.
Beran and her team are adding applications to MEDi’s programming for such procedures like blood transfusions, EEG tests and chemotherapy.
The developers also are planning to enhance the technology by personalizing the interactions through use of facial recognition software.
Alberta Children’s Hospital has become the first hospital in the world to use humanoid robotics for bedside paediatric care.
The Oncology department at Toronto Sick Kids has also looked into acquiring the technology once it’s available and goes to market.