Skip to main content

Robotic dogs spread 'paw-sitivity' and calm nerves for young patients at Alberta Children's Hospital

Share

Animal therapy is a well-known method to calm the nerves of those dealing with stress or anxiety, but a new robotic twist on the idea is now aiding in recovery efforts for the Alberta Children’s Hospital’s youngest patients.

A pair of robotic dogs were recently donated to the hospital’s Child Life Team – named Casey1 and Casey2 – after a generous donor who supplied the latest interactive technology.

The robots can do all sorts of tricks which include talking, dancing, jumping up and down, waving, rolling over, stretching, and even making the sign of a heart to send a bit of paws-itivity.

For young patients like five-year-old Dean Grubbe, the robotic dogs came as a big surprise when he first saw them walking into his hospital room.

“It’s a little bit weird, because they are dancing robots,” he said smiling.

“They’re actually kind of funny though, I really like them!”

A pair of robotic dogs were recently donated to the hospital’s Child Life Team – named Casey1 and Casey2 – after a generous donor who supplied the latest interactive technology

Others like 20-year-old Caelan Ballantyne say the robotic dogs help distract her from the difficult cancer treatments she’s been receiving for the past year.

“I really like the innovation and they run really fast,” she said.

Ballantyne’s mother Tammy adds that her daughter has shown signs of improvement particularly in her motor skills from interacting with the robot dogs.

“It's definitely been good to see her smile and interact with the robots, even getting to control them was quite neat because it’s been helping with her hand coordination and everything, it's definitely been a huge plus.”

Leading Edge Developments

The robot dog was donated by Casey Mallat and his business Leading Edge Developments.

“Really, we just kind of came across these dogs online. I had a friend here at the hospital who was a surgeon and told him we raised a bunch of money from our Christmas party for the children’s hospital so we ordered these dogs and it turned out to be pretty cool,” Mallat said.

“We have three kids and two of them have had to come to the children’s hospital before so it’s great to be able to bring a little extra joy and make the patient’s days just a little bit easier.” 

The robot dog was donated by Casey Mallat and his business Leading Edge Developments.

That friend Mallat was referring to was Dr. Bryce Weber who is a pediatric urologist. He notes that the robot dogs have helped put many of his patients at ease prior to a major surgical procedure.

“The robots have really been great essentially for helping get children more comfortable coming into the hospital and having surgery, particularly older children that find robots more interesting or fascinating,” Weber said.

“I really think this is a great resource and just seeing the smiling child’s face who is feeling lucky to be here at that moment is something a lot better to see than for them to feel scared.”

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

Stay Connected