Robot Seal Paro

Evaluation of usage of a therapeutic robot in 5 EHPADs

(Etablissement d’Hébergement pour Personnes Agées Dépendantes: Residential Care Facilities for Dependent Elderly People)



The project

With a view to developing an innovative and appropriate service, La Mutualité Française Loire-Haute Loire SSAM, backed by the Fédération Nationale de la Mutualité Française (FNMF) and the Fondation Paul Bennetot, has decided to evaluate the potential contribution that might be made by the Paro robot to the care of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and/or related disorders, in Residential Care Facilities for Dependent Elderly People (Etablissement d’Hébergement pour Personnes Agées Dépendantes, or EHPADs) .

Designed in 1993 by Takanori Shibata of the Japanese company Intelligent System, Co. and developed by the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, the Paro robot is modelled to look like a Canadian harp seal pup. Its body is covered in a synthetic white fur and it weighs approximately 2.7kg. It has five kinds of sensor, namely tactile, light, sound, temperature and posture sensors, with which it can perceive people and its environment. It responds, as if alive, to interaction with the user, making small sounds in response to its environment (voice recognition), blinking, and moving its body to snuggle up against the user.

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MADoPA’s role

Alongside a clinical study of the therapeutic effects of the Paro robot (conducted by the LUSAGE Laboratory), Mutualité de la Loire has asked MADoPA to carry out a socio-ethnographic evaluation of usages of the robot by its residents, of the robot’s acceptability to healthcare professionals, and of its incorporation into working practices.
This socio-ethnographic evaluation is being carried out over an eighteen-month period and is based on three sets of observations and interviews conducted with workers, residents and their families in each EHPAD:

- When the robot is first introduced into the EHPADs (September – November 2016)
- Midway through the test period (April – May 2017)
- At the end of testing (November 2017 – January 2018)


Press review (french)

Le Progrès, Un bébé robot qui répond aux caresses pour aider les malades
Le Progrès, Paro, le robot phoque qui permet de retrouver le sourire
France Bleu, Lancement d’une étude sur Paro, le robot phoque qui aide les malades d’Alzheimer
SeniorActu, Maison de retraite : une grande étude sur Paro le petit robot
Hospimedia, Les usages du robot-phoque Paro vont faire l’objet d’une analyse poussée dans onze Ehpad mutualistes
SilverEco, Étude sur les usages de Paro pour les résidents atteints d’Alzheimer en EHPAD mutualistes