UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Pilot Testing a Robot for Reducing Pain in Hospitalized Preterm Infants Williams, Nicholas; MacLean, Karon; Guan, Ling; Collet, Jean Paul; Holsti, Liisa


Introduction: Optimizing neurodevelopment is a key goal of neonatal occupational therapy. Inpreterm infants, repeated procedural pain is associated with adverse effects on neurodevelopmentlong term. Calmer is a robot designed to reduce infant pain. Objective: To examine the effects of Calmer on heart rate variability (HRV) during routine blood collection in preterm infants.Methodology: In a randomized controlled pilot trial, 10 infants were assigned to either Standard Care (n=5, Facilitated tucking [FT]) or Calmer treatment (n=5). HRV was recorded continuously and quantified using the area (power) of the spectrum in high and low frequency (HF: 0.15- 0.40Hz/ms2; LF: 0.04-0.15 Hz/ms2) regions. Changes in HRV during three, two-minute phases (Baseline, Heel Poke and Recovery) were compared between groups. Results: Calmer infants had 90% greater parasympathetic activation ([PS] reduced stress) during Baseline, 82% greater PS activation during Poke, and 24% greater PS activation during Recovery than FT infants. Conclusion: Calmer reduced physiological preterm infant pain reactivity during blood collection.

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