As discussed in our last post, ‘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.
This week we will analyse the social and emotional findings of the study. In addition to measuring biological markers of the babies engaged in this study, the researchers surveyed impressions of the crocheted octopus project from parents of the subject babies. According to the report, 100% of parents surveyed said that they liked the project. More specifically, every surveyed parent reported
- they perceived the project to be beneficial to their baby, and
- the project helped them improve their involvement in their babies care.
Good-will, hope, confidence, encouragement are difficult to measure compared to heart-rate and blood pressure. It is, perhaps, unhelpful to seek validation of these positive qualities through quantification.
Other reports (not research studies) on the use of crocheted octopus reveal similar sentiments. For example, Poole Hospital in Dorset, England called for volunteers to crochet octopi to supply their babies in NICU. In response, an article in Modern Healthcare (20/2/17) says,
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the kind response to our appeal for crocheted octopi,” said Daniel Lockyer, matron of neonatal services. “Patients are already telling us that their babies seem calmer with an octopus friend to keep them company so we’re looking forward to continuing the project in the future.”
Similarly, TCA Regional News (5/1/19) reports from Thumbay Hospital Fujairah, UAE, that Mohammad Ali, father of a 33-week baby girl in the neonatal intensive care unit said,
“After being introduced to the crochet octopus last week, our baby seems to have become calmer and is responding well. I am thankful to the doctors and staff for this initiative.”
The perception of the babies as calmer is cited as anecdotal evidence which implies a degree of unreliability or untrustworthiness in the claims. Yet, is any other sort of reliable evidence possible under these circumstances? Is evidence of hope during hardship and peace during uncertainty even an appropriate request?
Returning to the social dimension of the study from Rotunda, Dublin highlights broader, immeasurable benefits. For example, some of the crochet volunteers had themselves experienced premature birth, birth complications or loss. Participating in the project, for these people, reportedly provided an unexpected positive therapeutic dimension. Similarly, staff at the hospital experienced community support in ways that were otherwise not possible.
The good in a human activity is not reliably measurable through a medical or scientific method. Accounting for the social aspects of the crocheted octopus project in a respectful and comprehensive fashion is complicated but worthwhile.
If you want to be involved in our Octopus Crochet project comment below or email for more information. Don’t know how to crochet? No problem. We’ll give you everything you need and support your every stitch.