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/ Research / Projects / Long-Term Learning and Online Adaptation for People with Cognitive Impairments

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Videos Publications Support Contact Details

Overview

In this work, we present a new adaptive socially assistive robotic (SAR) system that aims to provide a customized help protocol through motivation, encouragements, and companionship to users suffering from cognitive changes related to aging and/or Alzheimer's disease.

Project Details

The American Alzheimer's Association reported that more than one million residents in assisted living residences and nursing homes have some form of dementia or cognitive impairment and that number is increasing every day. The rapidly growing number of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease could cripple healthcare services in the next few decades. The latest estimate is that 26.6 million people were suffering from Alzheimer's disease worldwide in 2006, and that the number will increase to 100 million by 2050, or 1 in 85 of the total population. While there is no cure for dementia, medication and special therapy may improve symptoms or slow down the disease; most sufferers need some kind of assistance. Nonpharmacological treatments focus on physical, emotional, and mental activity. Engagement in activities is one of the key elements of effective dementia care. Activities (e.g., music therapy, arts and crafts) help individuals with dementia and cognitive impairment maintain their functional abilities and can enhance quality of life.

Our approach uses the socially assistive robotics (SAR) methodology, human-robot interaction aimed at social rather than physical assistance, aimed at providing long-term affordable personalized cognitive assistance, motivation, and companionship to users suffering from cognitive changes related to aging, dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease. In addition to serving as a social and cognitive tool, the robot is also capable of providing detailed reports of patient progress to caretakers, physicians, and therapists. The work aims to validate that SAR systems can establish productive interactions with users, and can be effective at prompting, coaching, and motivating the user during cognitive exercises.

Project Goals

The specific aims of the proposed study are as follows:

Experimental Scenarios

One basic experimental scenarios was used:

  1. One-on-one interaction between the robot and the user, either in a separate room or in public areas of the senior living facility.

The main scenario was:

  1. Cognitive games: the robot will monitor the user while the user is performing a cognitive task, and will provide help, motivation, and encouragement. The game used in this project is a music game called "Name That Tune".

Images

Experimental Design - Cognitive Stimulation Music Game

Music Game Board
Music Game Board
Example of Experiment
Participant from Silverado Senior Living Interacting with the Robot
Test Subject Interacting with the Robot
Participant from Silverado Senior Living Interacting with the Robot
Test Subject Interacting with the Computer Simulated Robot
Test-beds
Bandit Robot
The biomimetic anthropomorphic humanoid robot

Videos

Here are some recent videos showing the role of physical embodiment of the robot and the robot behavior adaptation to user cognitive level of disability: video1 and video2

 

Publications
Support

This work is supported by the USC NIH Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) pilot program and National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAFKI) program. We are also grateful to our partner: Silverado Senior Living.

Contact

Dr. Adriana Tapus: tapus at usc dot edu or adriana dot tapus at ieee dot org