TAMPA — Tampa General Hospital has partnered with The Florida Aquarium to provide a unique and immersive experience for children who are hospitalized and unable to visit the aquarium in person. Through the use of telepresence robots, children can remotely explore the aquarium and interact with marine life, all from the comfort of their hospital beds.
The program is specifically designed for children between the ages of 6 and 12 who are either unable to go on field trips due to their hospitalization or too ill to accompany their friends and family to the aquarium. These children have the opportunity to operate a telepresence robot using a computer or tablet and guide it throughout the aquarium.
The telepresence robots, which were purchased by Tampa General Hospital at a cost of $50,000, provide a far more involved experience compared to a simple video call. Equipped with a small screen that displays the face of the child operating the robot, the device also includes a speaker and microphone, allowing the child to communicate with the people accompanying the robot and share in the excitement of the visit.
Not only does this program bring joy to the children involved, but it also creates lasting memories that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to create. The immersive nature of the experience, combined with the ability to control a robot, brings a sense of adventure and exploration to the hospital room.
The Florida Aquarium has been piloting the program for several weeks with great success. A staff member always accompanies the robot during the visits to ensure the safety of both the child and the aquarium’s property. The robots have a maximum speed of 2 mph, ensuring cautious movement throughout the aquarium.
In January, the program will go fully live and will be open to any child spending time at Tampa General Hospital. However, it will offer particular benefits to those with long-term health conditions such as cancer or autoimmune diseases. Children who spend an extended period of time in the hospital often feel isolated, and this program aims to provide them with a sense of connection and interaction, alleviating some of the emotional challenges they may face during their hospital stay.
Q: What is the purpose of the telepresence robots in the partnership between Tampa General Hospital and The Florida Aquarium?
A: The purpose is to allow hospitalized children to remotely explore the aquarium and interact with marine life.
Q: How do the telepresence robots work?
A: Children can operate the robots using a computer or tablet, guiding them throughout the aquarium.
Q: What age group is the program aimed at?
A: The program is designed for children between the ages of 6 and 12.
Q: What benefits does the program offer to children with long-term health conditions?
A: It provides these children with a sense of connection and interaction, reducing feelings of isolation during their hospital stay.