Cute Teddy Bear Robot Favorite Of Hospitalized Children

According to MIT research, robotic teddy bears greatly benefit hospitalized children. MIT has been working on a huggable robot for therapeutic purposes; see my 2008 story Huggable Robotic Bear Companion From MIT.

For the study, published today in the journal Pediatrics, researchers from the MIT Media Lab, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Northeastern University deployed a robotic teddy bear, “Huggable,” across several pediatric units at Boston Children’s Hospital. More than 50 hospitalized children were randomly split into three groups of interventions that involved Huggable, a tablet-based virtual Huggable, or a traditional plush teddy bear. In general, Huggable improved various patient outcomes over those other two options.

The study primarily demonstrated the feasibility of integrating Huggable into the interventions. But results also indicated that children playing with Huggable experienced more positive emotions overall. They also got out of bed and moved around more, and emotionally connected with the robot, asking it personal questions and inviting it to come back later to meet their families. “Such improved emotional, physical, and verbal outcomes are all positive factors that could contribute to better and faster recovery in hospitalized children,” the researchers write in their study.

Science fiction writer Anne McCaffrey created something quite similar, called Purza the Pukha, in her 1990 novel The Rowan. She described them in the novel as "specially programmed stabilizing surrogate devices":

Pukhas, deriving their name from the imaginary companions discovered by needful children, had become widely used in pediatrics. They could be programmed for a variety of uses...

...thought had been given to its programming: its long soft hair was composed of receptors, monitoring the child's physical and psychic health.
(Read more about Anne McCaffrey's Purza the Pukha)

Via Wevolver.

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