By Akshaj Mehta, Sci-Tech Column Editor
We humans are conditioned to fear the puncture of sharp objects on our bodies, such as needles. This fact makes it easier to understand why kids are frightened to get a shot as they are frightened of the pain; some get scared looking at the size of the needle.
Shots can be scary at first, but Fort Lauderdale Hospital in Florida came up with an amazing idea. They have a nifty robot named MEDI, who is a helpful companion to children patients. MEDI is programmed to help children through treatments and pains by distracting them so that they do not fear needles.
MEDI stands for Medicine and Engineering Design Intelligence. Purchased with $15,000 in July of 2016, he has been used to calm the children patients.
For example, if a nurse has to draw blood or give a vaccine, MEDI distracts children from the pain. According to child life specialist Kasey Castro, the children have responded well with MEDI: “The hospital visits can be a threatening environment, and the treatments can be a traumatizing experience, but when they see MEDI come in, the children’s eyes light up, and they are very excited to know about MEDI and what he can do.”
MEDI dances and gives fist bumps and encouragement. “How ya doing? Give me a fist bump,” MEDI says. “You’re totally awesome.”
This helps calm the patient and lets the nurse do her/his job. He also can be a teacher as he tells the patient what to expect when a vaccine is coming up or when they remove a cast. Nurses say, “He can make it more fun and less traumatizing” for them. MEDI also has a facial recognition, so he greets patients with their names. Patients’ faces light up when they realize MEDI can recognize them. He can also sing, dance, tell a story, or play a game. Even though he is small, the children adore him. Dr. Hector Rodriguez-Cortes says, “This thing that looks like a toy puts the patient in a calmer state, so the nurses can move ahead with the procedure.”
All the doctors and surgeons out there in all the hospitals around the world: Can we have MEDI for the kids everywhere?
If we could raise our funds for hospitals and get MEDI, kids wouldn’t have to be worried. The doctors could head on with procedures and not worry about fear of kids, which could be taken care of by MEDI.