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First Living Lab
“Unique in the world!”
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 3 mai 2012

Photo: Julien Faugere

Living Lab in action

When Sainte-Justine CEO Dr. Fabrice Brunet first met Patrick Dubé of Montreal’s Société des arts technologiques (SAT) he noticed that “the chemistry between us was immediate.”

After a year of collaboration, the two institutions have launched a Living Lab, designed to ease the stress and anxiety children face in hospitals.

The Living Lab is not a research space in the conventional sense. Rather it’s a method that lets users of technological devices actively participate in their creation.

In, this case, the devices are a series of interactive virtual environments. They allow children to digitally redesign their hospital rooms with their favorite colours and objects. They can converse with and manipulate avatars to express their emotions, and explore upsetting scenarios to verbalize their fears. It also offers an interactive gym to help patients get back to physical activity, after chemotherapy for example.

“When children are admitted to the hospital they hurt, they’re afraid and they need to be more relaxed in order to receive treatment,” says Dr. Dubé.

The Living Lab provides tools to help accomplish that goal. And as the term Living Lab suggests, it’s still a work in progress that uses the input of doctors, therapists, children and creative computer experts to develop devices aimed at humanizing patient care.

It allows kids to be active in their treatment. During the process of creation the child is empowered to overcome shyness.

Right now the prototype Living Lab is set up at the SAT building on St. Laurent Blvd. But Sainte-Justine patients will be able to explore it before and after their hospital stays.

Dr. Patricia Garel, Chief of Psychiatry, believes it will be especially useful in helping children with mental illnesses. She’s already seen the clinical results of traditional creative therapies such as circus and theatre.

“One of my patients had not attended school for two years, but after creative therapy he’s back in school and doing well,” she says.

Dr. Brunet says the Living Lab is an extremely reliable tool. They will be able to measure its impact on young patients.

The Living Lab’s creative approach is making a stay in the hospital a little less stressful for children.

[ Gerri Barrer ]

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