Furry Social Robots May Provide Some Pain Relief

­PainRelief.com Interview with:

­ Shelly Levy-Tzedek, PhD
Head of the Cognition, Aging and Rehabilitation Lab
Faculty of Health Sciences, Dept. of Physical Therapy 
& The Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience
& ABC Robotics Initiative
The Ben Gurion University of the Negev

Prof. Levy-Tzedek

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: It is known that close, effective human touch can help alleviate pain. We set out to test whether touch interaction with a social robot can also reduce the sensation of pain. We found that it does: young, healthy people who touched the robot during the application of painful stimuli reported feeling less pain than when it was in the room with them (with no direct contact), or when it was not present at all. They also reported increased levels of happiness. 


PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: That a social robot may offer some relief from pain and increase feelings of happiness; It cannot replace human contact, but it may help when human contact is not available or limited. 

PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: It would be interesting to look at different sections of the population, and how their responses to the interaction with the robot may change

PainRelief.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: At this time of COVID-19-related social distancing, a social robot may offer some comfort.
We declare no conflict of interest. 

Citation:

  1. Nirit Geva, Florina Uzefovsky, Shelly Levy-Tzedek. Touching the social robot PARO reduces pain perception and salivary oxytocin levels. Scientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-66982-y

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