A Florida Atlantic University research team has tested a robotic cat in its ability to influence the mood and cognition of patients with dementia. The furry device moves and makes realistic noises, and can provide a source of companionship and entertainment for patients, without the commitment to take care of a real animal. Because patients with dementia may experience psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, the technology represents a low-impact intervention that avoids the possible side effects of drug treatment.
Dementia is extremely difficult for those who live with it, as well as for their family and caregivers. Not surprisingly, patients with dementia often experience psychological symptoms such as anxiety, aggression, and depression. Currently, they are often treated with drugs such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants, but these treatments carry a risk of side effects.
“Because there is no cure for dementia, our project offers a way to address the symptoms naturally and without the use of drug treatments, which may or may not be effective and have potentially harmful side effects,” he said. say Bryanna Streit LaRose, a researcher involved in the study.
The latter technique is based on pet therapy, in which interaction with pets, such as cats or dogs, can bring psychological benefits to patients. However, simply releasing a herd of dogs or cats into a care center seems like a recipe for chaos and disaster, and patients with dementia may not be equipped to care for the needs of a live animal.
These researchers sought robotics as a solution, whereby a robotic animal could provide the benefits of pet therapy without the complications of live animals. Your device is based on a real cat. It can be caressed and, in turn, interacts with patients by moving and making realistic noises.
In a field trial, researchers tested the cat in an adult home with dementia. Each participant received their own cat and most enjoyed interacting with the robots.
“In addition to improving mood, behaviors, and cognition, these robotic companion cats provided our participants with an alternative way to express themselves,” said Lisa Kirk Wiese, another researcher involved in the study. ‘study. “It’s important to note that improving overall mood and behavior in people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias can also improve the quality of life for their caregivers and family members.”
Watch a video about the project below.
Study in the newspaper Problems in Mental Health Nursing: Improve psychological and behavioral symptoms and cognitive status of participants with dementia through the use of therapeutic interactive pets