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Virtual Assistants – Like Alexa – Can Now Give Hope to Children with a Severe Syndrome

Voice technology is changing the healthcare landscape by enabling the creation of new digital solutions to meet the various unmet needs of patients. With the tech industry singing the praises of voice as the next best interface, healthcare innovators are joining the chorus as they seek to improve patient engagement.

 

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A new Amazon Alexa skill has just been announced called Ella the Jellyfish, which was designed to engage and entertain children living with a severe form of childhood-onset epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS). Created with direct input from LGS families, Ella the Jellyfish is voice activated, free of charge and available to download on all Alexa-enabled devices such as smart phones, tablets and voice assistants.

 

LGS is characterized by multiple seizure types, as well as cognitive impairment or development delays. Approximately 70% of patients with LGS will show cognitive impairment at diagnosis. More than 50% with the disease suffer behavioral issues including hyperactivity, sleep disturbances, aggression and autistic symptoms.[1]

 

Having a child who has LGS can significantly change the family routine and children with the disease can even feel isolated within their own families. The frequent, unpredictable seizures, often associated with falls or injuries, require the child to have constant supervision. This results in 24 hours a day, seven days a week care, often putting a tremendous strain on marriage and family.[2]

 

Ella the Jellyfish is a wonderful example of how a voice activated, digital health solution can provide a new level of support and compassion for patients, families and caregivers. When interacting with Ella the Jellyfish, parents may witness their children independently sooth themselves and be filled with joy, as well as be more connected to those around them.

Pediatric neurology experts Dr. Steven Wolf, M.D. and Patricia McGoldrick, N.P. (from Mount Sinai in NY), as well as a parent of a child with LGS, discuss the impact that this innovation will have on the LGS community.

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Makeba Giles is a Digital Content Producer and founder of Faith Health and Home, a digital space with information and resources for physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being to help families live an inspired lifestyle.

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