“We welcomed Buddy with a lot of hope”, confides Cécile Boulanger, pediatrician at Toulouse University Hospital. Buddy, that’s the name of a smart little robot. He recently joined the hematology-oncology team at the CHU Children’s Hospital. His mission : maintain the bond between children with cancer and their loved ones during their hospital stay.
This innovative telepresence emotional robot was designed by “The Hope of Princess Manon” and volunteer engineers from Airbus Humanity Lab. Created in 2018, the association notably collects funds for cancer research and helps hospital patients during the isolation phase. Sometimes necessary in the fight against cancer, this period lasts several weeks.
Reduce “the feeling of distance and sometimes exclusion from the family”
During this time, the children are in a sterile room. They may then feel isolated from their families. With boyfriend, Toulouse University Hospital wanted to make this step less difficult for his little patients and their loved ones. “It should considerably reduce the feeling of distance and sometimes exclusion from the family, in particular siblings,” said Dr Cécile Boulanger.
For a good adaptability of the robot, the team of the pediatric hematology-oncology department of the hospital took part in identifying its characteristics. After a test phase, Buddy was welcomed by Stella’s relatives. The 13-year-old was in protective isolation for five weeks. The experience was a success.
Three children and their family have already adopted the little robot
Today, the pediatric hemato-oncology team is offering some of the hospitalized children and their loved ones to adopt Buddy. For the moment, they are three to have benefited from the support of the robot. Before joining their family, Buddy is introduced to hospitalized children. Young patients are then given a tablet.
Thanks to it, they can connect to the robot in order to see and hear what is happening at home. It is also possible for them to move Buddy as they wish. Children can go and play remotely with one of their brothers or sisters in their room or participate in the family meal in the dining room. The robot also allows them to look at photos taken by their loved ones during their absence.
Soon a study to measure the benefits of Buddy
The Toulouse University Hospital team and caregiver plans to launch a study on the benefits of Buddy soon. It will measure the socio-psychological impacts of the device on the patient and his family and on the patient / carer relationship.. Called “Buddy Guard”, this study is by a physician oncologist, an advanced practice nurse in psychiatry and a nurse coordinator.
It will consist of a clinical and psychological observation at different times of the use of the robot. Her goals : evaluate the best conditions for using Buddy (child’s age, family environment, lifestyle, social environment, etc.) and noted the benefits in the care and psychological experience of the child.