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Lifelike Robot Provides Innovative Rehabilitation Treatment for Patients

Wisconsin's Sacred Heart Hospital enhances patient experience with Pleo dinosaur

EAU CLAIRE, Wis., June 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Looking beyond the physical and occupational therapy norms, Sacred Heart Hospital's Physical Rehabilitation Center introduced a new team member who is making a positive impact on patient care. A responsive, animated and walking robotic Pleo Dinosaur is being used in the rehabilitation of patients, both physically and emotionally. The dinosaur presents an alternative to other "conventional" means of therapy such as pulley systems or utilizing light weights.


A study by Saint Louis University has demonstrated the alleviation of loneliness of patients when connecting with companion robotics. The research provides strong support for the success of using robotic devices for patient rehabilitation, including increased cognitive responses and enhanced motor skills.

"The 3.5 pound robotic dino is easy to lift and has been particularly helpful in improving the strength and dexterity of patients without making the exercise feel like therapy," said Ben Johnson, Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist, Sacred Heart Hospital. "A lot of people have upper extremity problems causing weakness in their arms. The stroking of a pet provides huge benefits to patients, making their arms and hands stronger."

One such patient, Gary Sandvig, recently found strength working with the dino. Hospitalized after a motorcycle crash, the 48-year-old broke a leg and suffered a spinal cord injury that affected the use of his hands.

"It seemed like within a day of playing around with him, I was getting more use out of my one hand and arm," said Sandvig. "I would talk to it and hold onto it much like I do with my own pet, Diesel. He interacted with me. In a way, Pleo kind of took the place of my dog," Sandvig admitted.

The Pleo Dinosaur responds to the way he is touched, much like a real animal. He also explores, expresses emotion, and reacts to his environment, allowing for increased patient engagement. The dinosaur "sees" with the help of a color camera, "hears" with the use of microphones and has sensors that enable it to "feel".

Sacred Heart Hospital seeks to continue providing innovative methods of therapy that simultaneously heal and engage patients and hopes to add more dinosaurs to the Physical Rehabilitation Center in the near future.

About Sacred Heart Hospital

Sacred Heart Hospital strives to provide patients the best, most specialized treatment available by blending advanced technology with the Franciscan tradition to improve health by treating the whole person - body, mind and spirit. The exploration of the benefits of robotics in therapy is important to Sacred Heart Hospital as they strive to bring the newest, most innovative technologies to the region. As an affiliate of the Hospital Sisters Health System, the hospital has met patient needs in Western Wisconsin, since 1889, with the latest medical innovations and technology. For additional information about Sacred Heart Hospital, visit

    DeAnna Starn
    R/P Marketing Public Relations

    Shannon Portell
    Sacred Heart Hospital

SOURCE Sacred Heart Hospital
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