venerdì 30 maggio 2014

Robot pet seal helps Alzheimer's patient study

University of Siena researchers probe cognitive conditions

(ANSA) - Florence, May 30 - A robot pet, created to resemble a baby seal, is helping Alzheimer's patients improve their condition through a form of 'pet therapy' in a study conducted by researchers at the University of Siena. The study, including research from the learning technologies department and the robots lab, has concluded that all patients who had contact with Paro, the baby seal robot, showed marked improvement in their cognitive processes.

Paro was first created from Japanese technology and was engineered to artificially express emotions which, in turn, arouses feelings in Alzheimer's patients including affection, tenderness and gentleness. The next challenge is to establish what elements of the robot pet are responsible for the patients' response, said Patrizia Marti, head of the project. The pilot test was conducted in residential health care facility Le Ville di Porta Romana in the Tuscan city of Siena and involved a group of women of an average age of 80 with various levels of cognitive problems.

Results of the study will be presented next month at a national conference on Alzheimer's care in Pistoia. The Paro seal has drawn international media attention with previous research conducted in the United States, Britian and Japan. 

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