Compassionate Care

Robots and Goggles Bring the Fun to Health Care

New technologies offer cool experiences and create welcome distractions

Shriners Children’s Twin Cities has two unique staff members – Misty II robots, created by Misty Robotics.

Misty robots assist the clinic and therapy teams in several ways, including distracting patients during procedures, motivating children to walk and run so their progress can be assessed, explaining complicated conditions and treatments, and making wait times more pleasant for kids.

Implementing this new robotic technology has been a great way to keep patients involved in their orthopaedic care, while having fun.

Misty robots are completely customizable, and their capabilities will continue to be utilized and developed to assist the hospital in creative ways.

Karley uses VR goggles while getting physical therapy on her leg.

A world away from pain

Distraction and pain relief are the two main reasons child life therapists at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis provide patients with virtual reality (VR) goggles.

The goggles are used for a variety of procedures, the most common of which is blood draws. Instead of fearing a needle, kids are focused on something a world away – like swimming with dolphins, walking through a forest or throwing balls at bear cubs, all using only their gaze.

“When the draw is over, they say, ‘It’s done? You actually did it?’” said Laura Teague, senior recreational therapist at the hospital. “They don’t even know we started.”

While the apps might be all fun and games, the science behind the use of VR is anything but. “We’re into non-pharmacological ways to help kids reduce pain,” Teague said. “These are specifically made for hospitals and the needs we’re trying to meet.”