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Background: Children with brain tumors are at increased risk for experiencing loneliness, a lack of close friendships, lower academic achievement, and diminished motivation. To counteract these negative effects, telepresence systems and their ability to maintain school and social participation as well as a sense of belonging are recently being discussed as promising approach. Despite the use of these systems throughout many countries, few scientific studies have examined their effects. Objectives: The aim of this article is to illustrate effects of one telepresence system, called avatar, in pediatric patients with chronic illnesses and to analyze possible benefits and challenges. Patients and Methods: In this report, the case of a 10-year-old girl named Sarah, with a brain tumor (medulloblastoma), is described. The girl received the avatar due to her reduced ability to attend school due to her medical condition. At the time of the study, the avatar had been in use for seven months, acting as a therapeutic tool to promote social inclusion and to keep up with school. Qualitative interviews were conducted with Sarah, her mother and her teacher, illustrating the relationship between social and learning aspects of telepresence systems. Originality and Clinical Relevance: The results indicate that the avatar has the potential to act as an essential supportive means for pediatric patients, maintaining social participation, sense of belonging and academic motivation. The novelty of this telepresence system, the lack of studies in this research area and the probable positive influence emphasize the originality and clinical relevance of this case report.
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telepresence system, chronic illness, brain tumor, social inclusion, avatar, pediatrics