"Telepresence Robots for Virtual Academic Inclusion and Improved Well-Being, Health, and Social Outcomes for Homebound Pediatric Patients"

PhD Candidate Veronica Newhart and Professor Mark Warschauer have been awarded a one-year Institute for Clinical and Translational Science Biomedical and Health Informatics Grant. ICTS grants are designed to encourage early exploration of high-risk translational research ideas focused on emerging areas of basic and applied science with clear relevance to clinical applications. Specifically, the grants support exceptionally innovative and/or unconventional research projects that have the potential to create or overturn fundamental paradigms.

Grant: Telepresence Robots for Virtual Academic Inclusion and Improved Well-Being, Health, and Social Outcomes for Homebound Pediatric Patients
Funder:  Institute for Clinical Translational Science Pilot: Biomedical and Health Informatics Grant 
PI: Mark Warschauer
Co-PIs: Judith Olson (Informatics) & Veronica Newhart (Education)
Duration: One Year


Due to increased survival rates, and reclassification of illnesses once considered fatal, there is a growing population of children who are homebound due to chronic illnesses. This project aims to address the lag between the scientific discoveries that have led to increased survival and needed changes in the treatments and practices afforded to these children for quality of life. Recent technological innovations, such as telepresence robots, may allow for partnerships between the technology, healthcare, and education fields to improve well-being, health, and social outcomes for homebound pediatric patients. These robots allow for real-time, two-way communication and have features that allow for integration of homebound pediatric patients in existing school settings and peer social structures. The goal of robot use is for the patient to engage in social and academic experiences in such a way that they contribute to healthy social emotional development. These social experiences may also contribute to increased adherence to prescribed medial regimens resulting in improved well-being and health outcomes for this population. This project will provide an interdisciplinary partnership between schools of Education, Informatics, and Pediatrics that will provide formal, objective research studies in order to provide recommendations for use of the robots as supported by the education, technology, and health care research literatures.