Design of an Affordable Socially Assistive Robot for Remote Health and Function Monitoring and Prognostication

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Michelle J Johnson Michael J. Sobrepera Enri Kina Rochelle Mendonca

Abstract

To address shortages in rehabilitation clinicians and provide for the growing numbers of elder and disabled patients needing rehabilitation, we have been working towards developing an affordable socially assistive robot for remote therapy and health monitoring. Our system is being designed to initially work via remote control, while addressing some of the challenges of traditional telepresence. To understand how to design a system to meet the needs of elders, we created a mobile therapy robot prototype from two commercial robots and demonstrated this system to clinicians in two types of rehabilitation care settings: a daycare setting and a inpatient rehabilitation setting. We propose to introduce the prototype as a social and therapy agent into clinician-patient interactions with the aim of improving the quality of information transfer between the clinician and the patient. This paper describes an investigative effort to understand how clinicians who work with elders accept this prototype. Clinicians from each setting differed in their needs for the robot. Those in daycare settings preferred a more social robot to encourage and motivate elders to exercise
as well as monitor their health. Clinicians in the inpatient rehabilitation setting desired a robot with more therapeutic and treatment capabilities. Both groups wanted a robot with some autonomy that was portable, maintainable, affordable, and durable. We discuss these results in detail along with the ethical implications of increasing the robot’s autonomy and suggest additional requirements for achieving a smarter robot that can meet the clinicians’ social, health monitoring and prognostication desires.

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Keywords

Intelligent Health Monitoring, Socially Assistive Robotics, Rehabilitation Robotics, Telepresence, Human-centered computing

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