The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Kimura Clinic, and Brain Functions Laboratory participated in joint research involving Paro, a therapeutic seal robot, and patients with Alzheimer's disease and other cognition disorders to discover the effect of the robot on improving brain function.
Elderly subjects with cognition disorders were asked to interact with Paro. The subjects' brain waves were measured before and after the interaction for analysis. Out of the 14 people who participated in the study, 7 (50%) experienced an improvement in brain function. Studies in the past have shown that robot therapy involving Paro in domestic and international facilities for the elderly produces expressions and behavior in the patients that is similar to those in healthy people. Interaction with Paro improves brain function in elderly patients with cognition disorders and helps prevent the development of such disorders in healthy people. Furthermore, subjects who expressed a positive attitude towards Paro were found to show a greater response to the therapy.
In Japan, the cost of providing long term care for patients with cognition disorders has risen to 4 million yen per person. This represents an enormous burden for the municipalities that provide long term care insurance. Because of this, it has become increasingly important to find ways to prevent cognition disorders that will require long term care.
People who interact with Paro are expected to improve the quality of their lives and prevent the onset of cognition disorders. In this way, Paro can help decrease the need for long term care.
These results are going to be presented at the Stockholm-Tokyo video conference on Service Robots and the Aging Population on September 22, 2005.