Washington, March 21 (IANS) Personal humanoid robots can help stroke patients recover by delivering therapies, says a new study.
Using a humanoid robot to deliver speech and physical therapies to a stroke patient, researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst saw notable gains.
"It's clear from our study of a 72-year-old male stroke client that a personal humanoid robot can help people recover by delivering therapies such as word-retrieval games and arm movement tasks in an enjoyable and engaging way," says speech language pathologist and study leader Yu-kyong Choe.
A major focus of the study was to assess how therapy interventions in one domain -- speech -- affected interventions in another -- physical therapy -- in two different delivery scenarios, reports Science Daily.
Yu-kyong Choe and study co-author Rod Grupen, director of the Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics, point out that until now it has been "largely unknown how interventions by one type of therapy affects progress in others".
While some may object to robots delivering therapy, the need is great and definitely not being met now, especially in rural areas, according to researchers.
They hope to aid human-to-human interaction, so a robot can temporarily take the therapist's place.
"In addition to improving quality of life, if we can support a client in the home so they can delay institutionalization, we can improve outcomes and make a huge impact on the cost of elder care. There are 70 million baby boomers beginning to retire now," says Grupen.
"Stroke rehabilitation is such a monumental financial problem everywhere in the world, that's where it can pay for itself," he adds.
"A personal robot could save billions of dollars in elder care while letting people stay in their own homes and communities. We're hoping for a win-win where our elders live better, more independent and productive lives and our overtaxed healthcare resources are used more effectively."
Their work is described in the current issue of the journal Aphasiology.