Do crocheted octopi help babies in neonatal?

‘The Tentacles for Tinies’ is a 2017 pilot study of the efficacy of using crocheted octopi in the neonatal unit of the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.

Our analysis of the study shows that the findings are written up into two broad categories, biological findings and social findings. Today’s post will discuss the biological findings. Next week we will share our analysis of the social findings.

The biological findings were derived from measuring a range of each baby’s physical indicators both with and without interaction with an octopus. The study concludes that overall, the biological indicators such as heart-rate, did not significantly change between the two states (i.e. with and without an octopus companion).

It could be, on first reading of the physical results, easy to dismiss the presence of a crocheted octopus as having any physical benefit to the babies. This, however, is not an accurate conclusion. Firstly, the babies did not show any deterioration in physical indicators such as decreased oxygen absorption. No ill effect is a positive conclusion we can draw from the results.

Physical indicators from the babies were measured after only fifteen minutes of holding the octopus. Fifteen minutes, as a length of time, compared to the weeks, days and hours that babies are cared for in a neonatal environment, is a relatively short time. If you have ever been a patient in hospital you will remember that interventions, interruptions and monitoring at your bedside are more enduring than the experience of rest or recovery. Being in hospital is a busy and social experience. It is plausible to suggest that fifteen minutes cannot give any real picture of the physical benefit of an octopus companion.

Maybe, though, there are significant positive effects of the crocheted octopus which we do not have the tools to measure. There are some things in life that cannot and should not be measured. Our analysis of the social findings of the pilot study point in this direction.

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