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Published on: November 12, 2012
Robots could be a key tool in the fight against dementia, researchers from a New Zealand university say.
A study by the Auckland University shows patients with the condition reacting positively to having robots in their lives, helping them take their medication and improving their mood.
For seven years the university has been studying the use of robots in healthcare, this latest research has been using two robots in the dementia care home at Selwyn Village. “The overall aim of the project is to try to develop technologies that can help people with dementia and help the people who are looking after people with dementia,” said senior lecturer of psychological medicine at Auckland University, Dr Elizabeth Broadbent.
The two robots have different purposes.
Robot number one, Paro, is a companion bot designed to look like a pet dog, an idea which has already shown great promise in its homeland of Japan. The second robot, Guide, is a health bot with a variety of functions, and is shaped more like a large touch-screen computer.
“This robot can do things like remind people to take medication, it can show entertainment like videos, it can show photographs, it’s got memory games,” said Broadbent.
“So what we’re trying to do is introduce this new robot to people with dementia and see how they react compared to how they react to Paro.”
And the robots have proven a hit. “It definitely had the cuteness factor,” said clinical nurse specialist at Selwyn Village, Isabella Wright.
“A lot of our residents had a positive response to Paro, where they would feel a lot calmer by it, their mood would improve.”
It is hoped the research will be used to help shape aged care in the future. “We’re looking at things like loneliness and depression, but with Guide robot we can also look at things like adherence to medication and medicine management and managing long term health conditions,” said Broadbent.
Picture: One News
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