7. Stuffed animal with lifelike heartbeat helps Alzheimer’s patients
A couple of University of Illinois students have created a startup called Therapalz to give soothing vibrations, sounds, movement and a lifelike heartbeat within a stuffed animal for Alzheimer’s patients.
The 2 students, junior systems engineering and design major Fiona Kalensky and junior marketing major Isak Massman, designed the companion animal for a student organization Design for America. The students wanted to recreate the therapeutic effects of live animals for people who can’t afford to take care of or have access to animals.
“We were given two words to explore and develop solutions for: caregiver fatigue. Immediately, we began interviewing and collecting stories of caregivers and their loved ones in the surrounding area,” said Kalensky in a press release.
“One interview, in particular, was with a woman and her husband who had Alzheimer’s. Throughout the course of the interview, he would get up and begin to wander or become agitated, and she would pause and tend to him,” said Kalensky. “This cycle that kept repeating until their Yorkie came into the room and hopped onto his lap and his demeanor changed almost instantly. He sat there petting the dog, rocking back and forth and began to verbalize with the group. And we were able to carry out the rest of the interview without any more interruptions.”
This interaction is what inspired the idea behind Therapalz. The students wanted to recreate the therapeutic effects of live animals for people who can’t afford to take care of or have access to animals.