| 21.6°C Dublin

Dementia patients 
'reassured' by robots

People with dementia are communicating and interacting more after being introduced to the services of a companion robot.

A health trust in Britain introduced PARO Seal - an advanced interactive robot with tactile sensors which responds to sounds and can show emotions such as surprise and happiness.

When stroked it moves its head and body and opens and closes its eyes. Left untouched, PARO will call out to engage the person holding it, but will also 'sleep', encouraging the patient to settle.

Occupational therapist Claire Jepson said: "PARO helps calm and relax service users and can distract and reassure them if they are distressed by situations such as having their blood taken or being assisted with self-care.

"It is not just a stuffed toy, it is much more sophisticated and interactive than that, and it is fascinating to see how people engage with it.

"It is helping improve service users' communication and interaction. One lady often carries it around with her - reassuring the seal by grooming it helps soothe her in turn.

PARO enables her to experience a care-giving role, which is something very important to her."