Robot Assisted Interventions for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities: Impact on Users and Caregivers

  • Jainendra ShuklaEmail author
  • Julián Cristiano
  • Joan Oliver
  • Domènec Puig


Recent advancements in socially assistive robotics (SAR) have shown a vital potential and have thus inspired us to explore the benefits of robot assisted cognitive rehabilitation of individuals with intellectual disability (ID). Accordingly, the aim of this research was to evaluate the fitness of robot-assisted mental health interventions among individuals with ID and to assess its impact on the users and their caregivers. Firstly, the fitness of robot-assisted mental health interventions was studied through interviews conducted with seven expert psychologists and professional caregivers working daily with individuals with ID. The interviews helped to identify key aspects of a beneficial robot-assisted mental health intervention. Secondly, a case study of robot interactions among six individuals with ID was performed using a NAO robot in different categories of interaction identified by experts. The case study trials were assessed using a questionnaire and results reported positive effects of such interventions on the users, mainly an increase in the engagement. The results also highlight the need for the development of an interactive and adaptive robot-assisted solution for the benefit of the users. Finally, a cognitive rehabilitation activity with and without the robot was conducted in order to assess the impact of the interventions on the caregivers. Thus, thirty individuals with ID and five caregivers participated in multi-center trials which allowed a multidimensional evaluation of the caregiver’s workload. The results confirmed a significant reduction in caregivers burden and raise a concern about the need for a specific training of the caregivers to take maximum advantage of SAR empowered cognitive rehabilitation. This work provides valuable insights for the development of robot-assisted interventions for cognitive rehabilitation of people with ID.


Socially assistive robotics REHABIBOTICS Robot interaction Rehabilitation Intellectual disability 



The authors gratefully acknowledge collaboration of all the expert psychologists and professional caregivers involved in the interviews from Ave Maria Foundation, Sitges, Nexe Foundation, Barcelona, Balmes Institution, Barcelona and Taller Baix Camp, Tarragona. Also, authors are grateful for the cooperation of participants and their guardians from Ave Maria Foundation in this research.


This research work has been supported by the Industrial Doctorate program (Ref. ID.: 2014-DI-022) of AGAUR, Govt. of Catalonia.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jainendra Shukla
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Julián Cristiano
    • 3
  • Joan Oliver
    • 2
    • 3
  • Domènec Puig
    • 3
  1. 1.Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi (IIIT-D)New DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Instituto de Robótica para la DependenciaSitgesSpain
  3. 3.Intelligent Robotics and Computer Vision GroupUniversitat Rovira i VirgiliTarragonaSpain

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