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How a Robot Helped a Teen Living with CVID

June 13, 2018

Since being diagnosed with Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID) in 2016, Mitch Almason’s young life has been a series of adjustments. His monthly Revolutionary War reenactments have turned to yearly, and he has missed more days of school than he has attended. A once very active child filled with enthusiasm and a passion for swimming, playing in the school band, being the altar boy at his church, and exploring outside, has since dwindled due to the changes in his disease.

Before his diagnosis, Mitch suffered a stomach virus that lasted for 18 days. Even after the critical symptoms subsided, he could barely get out of bed. His mother, Allison, recalls how his pediatrician at the time said that some kids just get sick more often. She says, “Little did he know, he was dealing with a zebra, not a horse!”

After some bloodwork, Mitch’s lab results showed that he had low immunoglobulin counts, and his body was not producing antibodies to any of the vaccines that he received throughout his childhood. After a year of seeing two pediatricians, two immunologists, a rheumatologist, and a gastroenterologist, Mitch finally received his diagnosis of CVID.

Although Mitch does receive subcutaneous immunoglobulin replacement therapy, his quality of life isn’t the same as it used to be, and they have found that living with PI while transitioning into a teenager has been difficult. Mitch misses being with his friends and being at school. Luckily because of his hobby with War reenactments, Allison was able to meet someone that opened up a new opportunity for Mitch.

Pictured: Mitch Almason with his No Isolation AV1 robot

The No Isolation AV1 robot was introduced to the Almason's by an acquaintance they met at Revolutionary War reenacting just a month prior. The acquaintance, Lynn, saw a commercial from her home in Canada and immediately thought of the young reenactor she had met. The Almason’s were thrilled to hear about this new technology and were eager to equip themselves with a tool created for kids and young adults with long-term illnesses.

Oftentimes, people living with chronic, debilitating diseases find their lives to be quite isolating. The robot gives these individuals a chance away from the isolation through virtual interaction.

With his AV1 robot, Mitch is now able to get back into the classroom and church by linking up the robot to his iPad. The robot goes in place as Mitch, and he’s able to interact through it. He is able to signal through the robot when he has a question, turn his head to see his classmates/friends, participate in discussions, and he can signal when he isn’t feeling up to the conversation and would rather just listen.

“Without connection, friendships fade, and zebras need friends more than ever as they reach their teen years,” says Allison. “Keeping connected is critical!” Since Mitch is able to participate in school and see his friends through the robot, this prompts his friends to connect more with him after school. The best part of the AV1 robot is Mitch being able to participate in school in church again. He’s been able to get his life back.

Thank you to Allison and her family for sharing their story. If you’re interested in sharing a story of your own about living with PI, click here to e-mail us.

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