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Pruszków hospital adopts adorable robotic ‘therapy seal’ to help relieve patients’ stress

Named PARO and certified by Guinness World Records for its healing abilities, the seal-shaped robot has been shown to benefit those suffering from dementia, PTSD, cancer, brain damage and Parkinson’s Disease by offering “compassionate companionship” and “psychological enrichment”.
Piotr Nowak/PAP

The most therapeutic robot on the planet has been adopted by a hospital in Pruszków to help reduce stress in patients and caregivers.

Named PARO and certified by Guinness World Records for its healing abilities, the seal-shaped robot has been shown to benefit those suffering from dementia, PTSD, cancer, brain damage and Parkinson’s Disease by offering “compassionate companionship” and “psychological enrichment”.

Responding to each touch as if it were alive, the furry robot can move its head and limbs and can even imitate the sounds of an infant Harp seal.Parorobots.com

Used also to combat anxiety and depression whilst further aiding in speech therapy, the robot is equipped with five sensors that enable it to react to people and its immediate environment.

Of its abilities, the robot can recognise voice greetings, varying degrees of light and a person’s posture.

Used also to combat anxiety and depression whilst further aiding in speech therapy, the robot is equipped with five sensors that enable it to react to people and its immediate environment.CC BY-SA 2.0

Responding to each touch as if it were alive, the furry PARO can move its head and limbs and can even imitate the sounds of an infant Harp seal.

Complex in nature, PARO’s character changes according to differing stimuli – much like a real seal, it will sleep if it receives no stimuli and will wake if softly petted.

Similarly, even if the robot has already developed certain character traits, these too can be developed and moulded much like in real life.

Complex in nature, PARO’s character changes according to differing stimuli – much like a real seal, it will sleep if it receives no stimuli and will wake if softly petted.robots.ieee.org

Donated by the Japanese Ambassador to the Mazowiecki Specialist Health Centre in Pruszków last week, the robotic seal was developed by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Science and Industrial Technology.

The PARO therapeutic robot is the eighth generation of a design that first debuted in Japan in 2003.

Originally invented by Doctor Takanori Shibata, the robot was designed to seek out eye contact, cuddle, recall faces, respond to touch and, even, learn actions that elicit favourable responses.

Donated by the Japanese Ambassador to the Mazowiecki Specialist Health Centre in Pruszków last week, the robotic seal was developed by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Science and Industrial Technology.Piotr Nowak/PAP

In an interview with Popular Science, Shibata explained his creation: “Just like animals are used in pet therapy, Paro can help relieve depression and anxiety – but it never needs to be fed and doesn’t die.”

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Miyajima Akio, said: “As the Japanese Ambassador to Poland, I hope that the robot will be well received and will help benefit patients, especially children. I am delighted that we had the opportunity to transfer the PARO robot to this health centre in Pruszków.”

Having worked closely with local authorities at the height of the Ukrainian refugee influx, the gift was made by the Japanese Embassy in recognition of the kindness displayed by the people of Poland.


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