‘Therapeutic benefits’ of robotic seal explored by university

Penny Dodds and the robotic seal pup
Penny Dodds and the robotic seal pup

A robotic baby seal is being used by health experts at the University of Brighton to bring ‘therapeutic benefits’ to people with dementia and learning difficulties.

The public is being invited to view the fury Harp seal ‘PARO’, which responds to touch and speech, and was invented by Professor Takanori Shibata from Japan.

It is being researched by Dr Penny Dodds, nurse lecturer practitioner at the University of Brighton’s School of Health Sciences, who is exploring the introduction of PARO to dementia care within Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

The University said research shows that PARO lessens stress and anxiety, promotes social interaction, facilitates emotional expression, improves mood and improves speech fluency.

Professor Shibata will be attending an open event at Room 129, Mayfield House on the university’s Falmer Campus, Brighton, between 9am and 4.30pm today (April 13).

Also attending will be Professor James Barilla, the USA naturalist who has written a book on robots inspired by nature.

Dr Dodds will introduce PARO and Age UK representatives will speak on how the robotic seal has been received by day centre visitors.