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.
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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.
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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Appendix: Questionnaire for the Evaluation of Robotic Interaction Effects
Appendix: Questionnaire for the Evaluation of Robotic Interaction Effects
As explained in Sect. 5.1.4, there is no availability of any method or scale for the evaluation of robotic interaction effects. Thus, we used a questionnaire in collaboration with an expert psychiatrist at FAM for such evaluations. This questionnaire was adapted from GARS-2 , WHODAS 2.0  and ABS-RC: 2  and consists of 12 questions. The Gilliam Autism Rating Scale-Second Edition (GARS-2) is a supplementary screening tool for individuals suffering with autism spectrum disorders and is scored on a scale of 0–3. ABS-RC: 2 is a method to assess adaptive behavior of mentally handicapped persons and is scored on a scale of 0–4. World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2 (WHODAS 2.0) is a tool for assessment of global functioning and impairment and is scored on a scale of 0–5. Since all the ratings were evaluated on different scores, rating scores were converted to percentages.
The questions presented below were selected to evaluate the social interaction and communication intents of the patient while he/she is interacting with other people or with the robot during the activity.
Does individual stare or look unhappy or unexcited when praised, humored, or entertained?
Does individual generally understand what people/robot say?
Does individual avoid eye contact (looks away when someone looks at him/her).
Does individual stare or look unhappy or unexcited when praised, humored, or entertained.
Does individual is non-imitative of other people when playing.
Does individual behave in an unreasonably fearful, frightened manner.
Does individual look through people (i.e., shows no recognition that a person is present).
Does individual laugh, giggle, cry inappropriately.
Does individual do certain things repetitively, ritualistically.
Does individual respond negatively or with temper tantrums when given commands, requests, or directions.
Does individual line up objects in precise, orderly fashion and becomes upset when the order is disturbed.
Is individual able to concentrate on doing something for 10 min?
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Shukla, J., Cristiano, J., Oliver, J. et al. Robot Assisted Interventions for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities: Impact on Users and Caregivers. Int J of Soc Robotics 11, 631–649 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-019-00527-w
- Socially assistive robotics
- Robot interaction
- Intellectual disability