Dr Takanori Shibata (Japan)

  • Dr Takanori Shibata
  • AIST, Japan


Seal Robot, PARO, as a Neurological Therapeutic Medical Device

Robot therapy, which uses robots as a substitution for animals in “animal therapy,” is a new robot application in the fields of welfare and patient care. The seal robot PARO began development for robot therapy in 1993. PARO was commercialized in Japan in 2005 and in Europe and the U.S. in 2009. Since then, about 2,700 PAROs have been used in hospitals and care facilities in approximately 30 countries. Recent research has revealed that robot therapy has a similar effect on patients as animal therapy. In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certified PARO as a “bio-feedback medical device.” While PARO can be used in various kinds of therapy similar to real animals, this presentation focuses on its use with elderly dementia patients because explicit differences can be easily observed before and after interacting with PARO. First, the purposes and functions of PARO will be explained. Second, because there are several observational studies on the therapeutic effects of the elderly with dementia interacting with PARO, some typical cases and interesting special cases will be introduced. These cases include recovery from depression, reduction of agitation, and recovery from speech disorders. In addition, they include cases of reduction of usage of medications in dementia care. Finally, reasons why PARO has the potential to change moods and behaviors of the elderly with dementia as a non-pharmacological approach will be explained.


Dr. Takanori Shibata received Ph.D. in Electronic and Mechanical Engineering from Nagoya University in 1992. He was a research scientist at AIST from 1993 to 1998, and concurrently, at the Artificial Intelligence Lab., MIT from 1995 to 1998. Dr. Shibata has been a senior research scientist at AIST since 1998. He was the Deputy Director for ICT Policy, for the Government of Japan from 2009 to 2010. His research interests include human-robot interaction, robot therapy, and humanitarian de-mining. He is the inventor of a seal robot named PARO, the World’s Most Therapeutic Robot, according to the Guinness World Records in 2002.

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