During BLOOD, patients in the National Stem Cell Transplant Unit at St James’ Hospital in Dublin will be ‘virtually’ present in Science Gallery Dublin using a telepresence robot called a ‘Double’. Patients will guide the robot through the gallery remotely from their bed in the hospital, joining in the exhibition experience. The team behind the project is conducting research over the course of the exhibition to establish if this interaction has an impact on the quality of life of patients.
Patients who are diagnosed with a blood disorder, such as leukaemia, are treated by receiving a transplant of healthy bone marrow. During this process, they stay in an isolation ward as they have a low number of neutrophils in their bloodstream, the white blood cells essential for fighting bacterial or fungal infection. This period takes up to six weeks with restricted access to family, friends and the outside world, so patients can become very anxious and depressed during this time.
OpenWindow is a research project that explores new ways of improving life in hospital for patients. Researchers developed a ‘virtual window’ for patients in their rooms. A large-scale clinical trial showed that OpenWindow had a positive effect on the experience of patients in isolation, reducing levels of anxiety and depression.
This interactive, over-the-web platform designed for care environments enables patients to remain connected with the outside world. Through robots, patients in St James’ Hospital will be able to interact with BLOOD. Science Gallery Dublin and the team at St James’ are interested in tracking the impact this interaction will have on the wellbeing of these patients.