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Nao, a robot that can entertain the sick children before an operation

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Published on Jan 10, 2017

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For those who have had the good fortune to live a happy childhood and healthy, it is difficult to understand what it means to be subject to treatment by child, a trauma that can accompany you for the rest of your life. Knows Giovanni Poggi, who has spent his whole childhood and a good part of the adolescence in the white coats due to a malformation . His personal experiences led him to become a nurse and to graduate with a thesis in Nursing Pediatric at the University of Padua, with a special project: a humanoid robot able to interact with the patients, children and calm down before being subjected to the interventions.



The idea was born during my second year of college, when John followed the computer science course: "I Was the only student - tells HuffPost - why is my course of study was abolished. Professor Roberto Mancini offered me a different program from the usual, more advanced, which included the study of robotics. The challenge was arduous, but I have accepted it. So I came up with the idea to use the robot to help patients and smaller".

The purpose is to brighten the stay of children and to reduce levels of anxiety and stress that they undergo a invitabile soaring before being subjected to hospital treatment: "The robot that we use is the model of the Nao, a humanoid height of about 60 cm, created by a French company 10 years ago. With the help of a computer was programmed in order to interact with the child. When your little one greets the family and enters the room to be subjected to treatment painful, is waiting for this robot that the offers to play, or sing, or dance, or tells a story. In this way, the baby is sleeping with a beautiful memory. These are non-pharmacological techniques that already are used in hospitals, but my study has shown that the presence of the robot is able to appease the mind of the little patient, and rightly afraid, and help him to react better to treatment in 80% of cases".

As a child John had to submit to several surgical operations, and this has influenced his choices as an adult: "in Spite of everything I have good memories of my period for the patient, because I was spending so much time in hospital that the doctors had become my second family. However, working in a hospital environment, I know that patients often do not live peacefully the period of stay, for this I wanted to help them, to return a little of what was given to me." The study was carried out from may to July of 2016, by analyzing the reactions of the 20 patients, hospitalized at the hospital of Padua.

An original idea, a search that has made John happy and satisfied, in addition to that degree: "At the beginning I was very hesitant because the robotics is not exactly my field, but then I am convinced thanks to the professors and the doctors of the hospital who have believed in this project. I'm glad to have given a hand to those who, like me, must live a childhood 'special' and I hope that the research and the use of the robot to continue".



A happy ending, then, but the aftertaste is bitter because, in spite of the interest of the scientific community and the media hype born from his research, and now John is unemployed: "How many pediatric nurses are in search of a job, I look forward to leaving the announcement of the competition and, in the meantime, send resume to private companies. The research has found good response and interest at international level but for now I don't consider a foreign country because I would like to work and carry on my study in Italy.

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