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Home / Neighborhood / Los Angeles / Can robotics help dementia patients?

Can robotics help dementia patients?

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In the last decade or so, robotics has been a greatly sought-after class in public schools. Locally, NASA’s JPL has been encouraging young minds to develop and evolve robotics into careers at the space agency as well as other sectors of the workforce.

One of the more interesting studies and practical implementation of robotics has been in the health care industry. For example, Hey SoCal recently visited the new Kaiser teaching facility where robotic babies are being used in OBGYN theatres and emergency rooms to help illustrate some of the complications that might occur during the pregnancy and birth processes. It has become the norm in many teaching hospitals around the globe, thanks to advances in robotic technology.

We recently heard of a golden retriever puppy (Jennie) who, while not exactly a living creature, does respond to verbal commands and reacts in remarkably life-like ways when held or petted. Hollenbeck Palms in Los Angeles is opening a state-of-the-art memory enhancement center in June and artificial dogs such as Jennie could be a huge part of that program.

Taking care of a pet can be difficult if not impossible for seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, as Tombot founder and CEO Tom Stevens discovered when his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “We needed to invent a far more realistic robotic animal than has previously existed, while still being affordable to reach as many people as possible,” he said.

Jim Henson’s world-renowned Creature Shop did the artistic design of the robotic K-9.  “Jennie” by Tombot, is a fully interactive robotic companion animal and will be the first to be an FDA-regulated medical device. Jennie is an alterternative to a real dog for adults suffering from dementia, and for seniors and anyone else who cannot safely or practically care for a live pet. This invention was cited by TIME Magazine as amongst the most innovative inventions of 2020.

Features of a Tombot puppy include:

  • A user-friendly design that is authentic to a real dog’s anatomy.
  • A software control system that allows the robot to respond to users in a manner consistent with how a real dog would respond.
  • Voice recognition system that listens to commands and responds accordingly
  • Provides all-day battery life and is plug-in rechargeable for overnight charging.

On May 19, Hollenbeck Palms will be hosting an interactive presentation of the unique qualities of this robotic dog and its therapeutic values at their location in Los Angeles.  There will be limited availability due to health restrictions.

For more information, call Hollenbeck Palms 323-304-4522.

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