They purr, they bark, and they show affection. Robotic pets are not just a novelty; they can also help with mental health issues.
Researchers at the University of Utah created a procedure for using robotic pets as a part of therapy for dementia patients. The process was depicted In a study published on July 20 in the Canadian Journal of Recreation Therapy.
The therapy sessions start with the therapist removing the “animals” from their carriers and allowing the patient to select whatever animal they want to interact with. After that, the patient can pet the robot's faux fur and listen to it make fake barking or purring noises. In the meantime, the therapist probes the patient's memory of their history in an effort to uncover any memories the patient may have had of their own pets.
The interactions were enjoyable for all of the patients, and even though the results of the sessions did not definitively show whether or not Robotic pet treatment might enhance their cognitive abilities or memory, The authors of the study think that the interaction alone can be very beneficial to the patients' psychological health.
Robotic animals can be purchased at a reasonably low cost; there are robotic dogs, cats, or even bird friends for between $65 and $150. And since they are artificial, they are hypo-allergenic and can offer dementia patients a secure substitute for real animals. These robots are a far cry from the cold, metal humanoid robots we all saw in science fiction movies, and their function is also very different from the automaton servant that is only there to clean your house or make dinner. Instead, these are cuddly, lovable robots that help with mental health issues.
There is definitely a place in our homes for this kind of robot.