Non-pharmacological and Neurological Therapy with Seal Robot PARO 
Takanori Shibata, Human Technology Research Institute, AIST

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, more than 3,000 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 neurological therapeutic device in 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, recent trends of integration of PARO into the social medical and welfare systems will be explained.

Socially Assistive Robotics: Helping Through Hands-Off Social Interaction
Elaine Short (Maja Matarić), Computer Science, University of Southern California

Socially assistive robot (SAR) systems apply social human-robot interaction to an assistive context. Robots serve as hands-off helpers for people with disabilities, providing coaching, motivation, social skills therapy, and other non-physical services to users. This talk will discuss research challenges and results in several areas of socially assistive robotics, with target users ranging from children with autism to older adults engaging in physical and cognitive exercise.

An Illusion of Lifelike Touch from Prosthetic Hands
John-John Cabibihan, Mechanical Engineering, Qatar University

To touch and be touched are vital to human development, well-being, and relationships. Whether the traumatic loss of limb is due to war, industrial, domestic or vehicular accident, amputation leaves an individual with a long lasting emotional scar from the disfigurement. With the provision of prosthetic devices, majority of these individuals can shield themselves from the social stigma and help them most especially at the initial stages of the coping process. In this talk, I will demonstrate that the touch from a warm and soft prosthetic hand can be perceived by another person as if the touch were coming from a human hand. I will describe a three-step process toward this goal. First, we made participants select artificial skin samples according to their preferred warmth and softness characteristics. Second, we developed a process to create a replica of a human hand. Lastly, the participants’ arms were touched with human and artificial hands, but they were prevented to see the hand that touched them. Results suggests that a warm and soft artificial hand can create an illusion that the touch is from a human hand. These findings open the possibilities for prosthetic and robotic hands that are lifelike and are more socially acceptable.

Autonomous Mobile Manipulators for Personalized Caregiving
Charlie Kemp, Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Tech

Mobile manipulators with autonomous capabilities have the potential to provide 24/7 personalized care, dramatically improving the quality of life of people with motor impairments. I will first provide an overview of opportunities for robots to provide beneficial physical assistance in the context of healthcare. I will then focus on my lab’s research to enable people with severe motor impairments to perform everyday tasks for themselves using mobile robots. In particular, I will focus on our work with Henry Evans, who has severe impairments due to a brainstem stroke. Through our research, Henry has been able to perform a number of tasks for himself for the first time in 10 years, such as pulling a blanket over himself, shaving himself, and operating mechanisms in his home. A key aspect of our work has been giving robots the ability to intelligently regulate the forces they apply while providing assistance.

Robots for Older Adults: Understanding Needs, Preferences, and Attitudes
Wendy Rogers, Psychology, Georgia Tech

There is much potential for robots to support older adults in their goal of successful aging with high quality of life. However, for human-robot interactions to be successful, the robots must be designed with user needs, preferences, and attitudes in mind. In the Human Factors and Aging Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology we are conducting research on older adult-robot interactions. In this presentation I will provide an overview of the needs, capabilities, preferences, and limitations of older adults. I will briefly discuss our research on the design of robots to support older adults. Our focus is on understanding the interactions between user characteristics, robot characteristics, and the context of the interactions (e.g., task demands).

Collaborative Design and Evaluation of Assistive Robot Systems
Holly Yanco, Computer Science, University of Massachusetts Lowell

To create assistive robot systems that will be truly usable and useful, roboticists must collaborate with clinicians from the very first design phase of the project. In this talk, I will present several of the assistive robotics projects from my lab, including a wheelchair-mounted robot arm and a telepresence robot, that were developed through collaborative work with clinicians at the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield, NH.

A Robotic Crawling Assistant for Children at Risk for Cerebral Palsy
Andrew Fagg, Computer Science, University of Oklahoma

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is an affliction that dramatically affects muscle strength and motor coordination starting from birth. Children who are affected by CP can show substantial delays in learning to crawl, which, in turn, delays the development of cognitive skills associated with spatial reasoning. Through interaction with a robot assistant, our goal is to bring children who are at risk for developing CP along a developmental trajectory that is more reflective of their typically developing peers. The infant lays in a prone position on the robot, which carries the infant along the ground. Movement of the robot can be triggered by ground reaction forces and by limb activity sensed by a kinematic capture suit. Because the robot responds to certain actions of the infant, s/he is motivated to continue practicing them. In addition, the infant is able to engage the robot to explore the surrounding environment, even before unassisted crawling is achieved. Infants who are at risk of CP are exposed to the robot for fifteen minutes, twice a week for a twelve-week period. Infants that are able to trigger movements through both ground reaction forces and the kinematic suit, as compared to ground reaction forces alone, show significantly higher activity of their feet and hands and do significantly more exploration at the end of the twelve weeks. This work is done in collaboration with Thubi H.-A. Kolobe, David P. Miller, Lei Ding and Peter Pidcoe, and with the support of NSF/NRI #1208639 and NIH/NICHD #R21HD061678-01A1.

Mobile Service Robot for Remote Rehabilitation and Exercise: A Survey of User Needs
Michelle Johnson, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, University of Pennsylvania

We investigated the potential utility of a conceptual mobile robot for service in telerehabilitation and coaching for inpatient and home-based stroke rehabilitation. A prototype was developed from the telepresence robot, VGo and the humanoid trunk robot, NAO. Clinicians and patients were surveyed and asked to comment on the system potential and to provide user requirements. This talk will provide feedback for future development of such systems.

Robotic Algorithms for Neurorehabilitation
James Patton, National Center for Rehabilitation Robotics, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

There has recent evidence against technology for therapy in recent years, however interactive technology has not leveraged new knowledge of neuroplasticity. This talk will trace out several recent successes in restoring function to stroke and traumatic brain injury survivors using sensorimotor field distortions. This makes an argument for a library of algorithms that will have a place in the neurorehabilitation clinics of the future.

Guidelines for Collaborating with Clinicians: Lessons Learned
Brian Scassellati, Computer Science, 
Yale University

I'll center this talk on three long-term collaborations with clinical psychologists and educational psychologists. Some of these were successful, some were not. I'll try to discuss some of the reasons why things went wrong, how we learned to adapt to these issues, and what we would do differently next time. 

Real-Life Challenges for the Deployment of Healthcare Robotics
Ayanna Howard, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Georgia Tech

Healthcare robotics refers to robots that are used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of people with (and without) disabilities. Through interaction, robotics for healthcare applications can increase the quality of life for older adults and/or people who experience disabling circumstances by, for example, assisting in stroke-therapy, assisting surgeons in the operating room, or becoming therapeutic playmates for children with cerebral palsy. There are numerous challenges though that must be addressed - determining the roles and responsibilities of both human and robot, developing interfaces for humans to interact with robots that does not require extensive training, and developing methods to allow the robot to learn from their human counterparts. In this talk, I will discuss the domain of intelligent robotics for healthcare applications and the real-life issues needed to tackle rehabilitation and therapy objectives for individuals with disabilities.

IROS 2014 workshop on Assistive Robotics for Individuals with Disabilities: HRI Issues and Beyond