Paro Robot Seal Healing Pet

The benefits of having a pet are well known, and animal-assisted therapy is widely used in hospitals and rehabilitation centers to comfort and engage patients. Of course, you don’t have to have a medical condition to benefit from animal companionship. I remember witnessing two black labs tear through a spinal cord rehabilitation unit, they ran all over all the mats, jumped on everything, and in a controlled medical environment it was refreshing and put a smile on everyone’s face.

For those with dementia, or alzheimer’s, taking care of a pet is normally not an option. Elderly people with altered mental states can be forgetful, neglectful, and are unable to safely and consistently care for other living beings. Developed about 10 years ago, the Paro Robot is a brilliant product, it is a robot harp seal with the characteristics of a pet such as sound and name recognition, tactile sensors, and emotional displays. It has hypoallergenic “fur, ” encourages communication and relaxation. More information is available on the website, but use of the Paro is backed by patient questionnaires indicating a decrease in depression and improvement in mood with use of Paro. While “robot therapy” may seem like an oxymoron term, a product such as this that may improve the quality of life of those with dementia and alzheimer’s whose days may otherwise be filled with fear, confusion and loneliness. In less extreme cases, they can do what any pet will do; make your day just a little better.

Additionally, this is a study published in 2011 in Gerontology examining the benefits of robot therapy (including the paro robot):It goes into detail into the function and use of the Paro, which is pretty amazing.