Therapeutic robot companions improve anxiety and the quality of life for people with mid- to late-stage dementia, according to a pilot study conducted by researchers from Griffith and Northumbria universities and institutions in Germany.
The group studied 18 patients in a residential aged-care facility in Queensland, Australia, interacting with a robotic harp seal called PARO, compared to the same patients participating in a reading group. After interacting with PARO and participating in the reading group, the researchers assessed clinical dementia measurements such as tendency to wander, apathy and depression level, and anxiety ratings. The researchers noted that PARO had a positive impact on quality of life, reduced anxiety, and increased contentment.
Interaction with animals is known to benefit older adults, but animals present infection and injury risks in residential care settings. PARO appears to offer similar benefits without the challenges associated with live animals.
The researchers plan to conduct further studies with a larger sample size to determine the value of investing in robotic companions for dementia patients.
From Northumbria University
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