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Critical Review of the Available Utilization Protocols

Socially assistive robots such as PARO have mainly been used with elderly people with dementia. The underlying idea is to achieve the benefits of animal therapy using a robotic system. However, outcomes of animal therapy with patients with dementia or other pathologies are still under debate, and no established protocols are available (Filan and Llewellyn-Jones 2006;

Nordgren and Engstrom 2014; O’Haire 2013; O’Haire, Guerin, and Kirkham 2015; Williams and Jenkins 2008). Users are expected to interact with the robotic pets as they would with a real pet. Most studies that evaluated the effect of these SARs on elderly people restricted the use of the robotic systems to specific hours per day (Bemelmans et al. 2012; Mordoch et al. 2013).

Service robots like the Giraff used in the VictoryaHome project, the Care-O-bot used in the ACCOMPANY Project, or the VGo are meant to be used 24/7 in homes for elderly people. Systems include a number of software licenses, such that various family members, friends, and caregivers can access the system through their computers. The system can be connected to a care facility such that possible alarms are directly sent to caregivers, who can then use the robot’s telepresence feature to better assess the situation. Long-term studies are not available. Also, it is still necessary to show the economic value of telepresence robots and to develop the appropriate business models. An economic evaluation of the ACCOMPANY system was provided by Duclos and Amirabdollahian (2014).

Envisioned clients for ARs to support caregivers like ROBEAR are care facilities that would like to alleviate personnel from strenuous tasks, such as lifting patients from a mattress at floor level into a wheelchair. However, these robots are still not commercially available, and the concept needs to be validated in real environments (e.g., will ROBEAR be more effective than a mobile hoist?).

 
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