Companion robot to help long-term care patients
Robots are working in factories, cleaning our carpets and even helping patients in long-term care facilities.
A Japanese researcher has created a robot companion for patients.
It's called Paro, and it's modeled on a baby seal. The robot has big black eyes, long eyelashes, and is soft to the touch.
"Every room you go into and you turn Paro on, all of a sudden no one looks at you," said Lorna Guse a University of Manitoba researcher. “Everyone's smiling, and they're looking at Paro."
This is why research scientist Takanori Shibata has spent nearly a quarter century developing and refining the robotics technology that brings Paro to life. He said the life like robot has therapeutic effects for patients in hospitals and extended care facilities.
"They have anxiety, they have depression or they have pain," said Shibata. "But interaction with Paro can improve their anxiety.”
Paro has been introduced to patients in Italy, Japan, and in 2008 here in Winnipeg at Deer Lodge Centre.
Guse said it is difficult to quantify the impact the robotic seal had on patients.
"There were so many instances where we saw such great changes on an individual basis that we couldn't replicate on a group basis,” Guse said.
According to the WRHA, Deer Lodge Centre’s Paro encouraged social interaction, and tapped into some basic caregiving emotions.
The WRHA said it had concerns about germs being spread on the robots fur. However, the latest generation of the robot is being created with anti-microbial properties.