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Robotic Seals Help Heal Japan's Elderly Tsunami Victims

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Published on Aug 2, 2011

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A pair of robotic furry seals help elderly victims now in a retirement home recover from their mental scars, after Japan's March quake and tsunami disaster.

For some elderly survivors of Japan's March earthquake and tsunami, comfort comes in the form of a small white robotic seal named Paro.

[Satsuko Yatsuzaka, 85-year-old Resident]:
"If I hold onto this, it doesn't matter if there's a typhoon outside, I still feel like I'm safe."

The Suisyoen retirement home is located in the middle of Japan's triple crises.




One week after the residents return, Robotics Division of Japanese company, Daiwa House, offered 2 robotic seals to the nursing home for free.

The residents—many of them still dealing with memories of the March quake—treat the new furry friends as pets.

[Ayako Shizo, Resident]:




"It's just as cute as a little living creature and so everyone is looking after it every day. It does sometimes runs out of battery power and stop. But when it's got its eyes open everyone stands around talking to it, asking it how it's doing and and things like that."

Suisyoen's General Manager says using robots makes therapy easier in some situations.

[Taku Kato-ono, General Manager]:
"First of all it's necessary to look after the live animals when keeping them for animal therapy. That however is rather difficult in certain situations and so in these cases, we use a doll, albeit a robotic one, as an alternative method to help people recover."

As the robots only hold an hour-and-a-half of battery-life, the residents normally hug their pets in the morning and charge them over lunch, so their furry friends are full of life again in the afternoon.

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