Bookmark and Share

Sharif University robots help with treatment of cancer children


Source: Mehr News Agency

Researchers in Sharif University of Technology have accelerated the treatment of cancer in children using humanoid social robots.

The research paper submitted to Sixth International Conference on Social Robotics University of Technology, Sydney, by Sharif University of Technology researchers Minoo Alemi, Ali Meghdari, Ashkan Ghanbarzadeh, Leila Jafari Moghadam, Anooshe Ghanbarzadeh, titled 'Impact of a Social Humanoid Robot as a Therapy Assistant in Children Cancer Treatment,' was awarded the best paper title.

Children suffering from cancer are subjected to higher levels of anorexia, anger, depression, and anxiety during chemotherapeutic treatments. The problem is a real challenge to psychologists in dealing with these children. Researchers in Sharif University of Technology Center of Excellence in Design, Robotics, and Automation found an effective new method to relieve these children from the distress and anger induced by cancer treatment processes through design of a humanoid robot.

Minoo Alemi, post-doctoral fellow at the Center says "in our visits to hospitals with pediatric cancer wards, we were hearing the megaphone announcing a 99 code, indicating that another child with cancer has died; the event triggered the idea in my mind that how it would be possible to help these children in their most critical time, and saving even two kids would be a great achievement for hospital."

Humanoid robots are the most prevalent social robots which helped researchers including applied linguists, psychologists, and robot experts to plan a six-month research project in two specialized hospitals of Pediatric Center and Mahak.

They found that using humanoid robots contributed significantly in decreased levels of stress, anger and increased appetite in cancerous children. Dr. Meghdari, research fellow in the Center and a coauthor of the paper quoted the officials of robotics conference that believed using humanoid robots in cancerous children treatment was the first time in the world of medicine; "the scenarios planned is a combination of psychology and training work; the robot was reprogrammed so that it could acquire different character to be friend of children," says Dr. Meghdari, "the scenario consisted of telling children how and when to eat; how to relax the muscles to avoid additional pain of injection," he added.

"Nurses usually are too busy to train children and other patients in these daily activities; however, robot would do it in the most proper time and with patience unseen of humans; it would repeat endlessly an activity for kid, and thus infusing them with a motivation to live," he said.

A limitation, Dr. Meghdari believes, is cultural differences in patients the robots deal with; "the humanoid robots are still in prototype form and for industrial production; further research is required," he noted. "The next step in the current project would be designing robots for country's different regions with different cultures," Meghdari said.

© Copyright 2014 (All Rights Reserved)