mediPuppet: Interactive Companion for Pediatric Patients

Young children often feel anxious when visiting the doctors. This study is about an interactive companion with an exploratory procedure map designed to help children feel more relaxed and comfortable during their medical procedure. The ultimate goal of this study is to transform an intimidating stressful situation into a joyful exploring game for children during hospital visits


Examples of Comforting Objects in practice:
1. Pediatric Patients at Hays Med Get a Companion
2. Emerson Hospital in Massachusetts

Human-Companion Animal Interaction:
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is another therapeutic aspect about interaction between the young children and their pets to provide strong emotional bonds that serves as a source of support to the pet owners. These Animal-Assisted Therapy studies reported that responsive pets served as an excellent communication link that provides the young patients with a sense of security in the hospital setting. These responsive companions quickened the medical process as well (Levinson 1997, Farnum 2002).


Research Method:
Interview, behavior observation

Location: Child Behavior Lab @HSI building 2nd floor

Duration: About 90 minutes in total.

Step 1. Interview the parents: The interview will be 30 minutes. It’s asking the parents about their experience of preparing their child before visiting a doctor, and how the child act during the visit.

[questionnaire for step 1]

Step 2. field observation: After the interview, the child will be assigned a puppet to play with and bring the puppet with them for the exam section. The field observation can be divided into two sections: the Introduction session and Examination session.

Origami dresses and shirts were prepared for child to dress up the puppet after the naming procedure for their new friend.

Game map created to visualize the whole exam procedure and for children to explore with the puppet

The children scan the QR code with the puppet to read the exam info

Step 3. Interview the child: The child will be asking questions about their feelings after going through the examination.


1. Initial prototype – Robot from Lego Mindstorms

+ quick prototyping and programming environment supported by Lego Mindstorms
+ with motor and sensor units equipped providing simple responses to the environment and subjects
+ flexible shapes/forms
- size and weight is a little overwhelmed for little kids
- break out into parts after playing by small children for a while
- small pieces might bring dangers to small children

2. Second prototype – Puppet with an Android Phone Embedded

+ programming environment supported by Andorid OS
+ quick prototyping but less sense of product-looking
+ weight and size of the puppet is a perfect fit to a small children to hold it around
+ no dropping elements from the puppet
- fixed shape


1. Lab setting – No real hospital environment

We don’t have connection to other doctors/hospitals for this pilot study. The whole experiment took place in a pseudo environment, the Child Behavior Lab. We accomodate the room into the waiting area and the exam room. The exam procedure just normal temperature measuring, and general questions asking about their body. This might not really create a stressful environment similar to real hospital.

What I can do to:
experiment accompanied with trained professionals.

2. Difficulties of interviewing small children – expression of emotion or feelings.

Small children reply questions in a really interesting way, like showing faces or body languages. They don’t describe too much in words.

What I did:
We recorded the whole experiment. Especially video recording the face and behavior of the child during the play and exam session. Sometimes the responses of one question come from their facial expression and body languages.


slides for final presentation

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