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Robot Bart Stops Stress


Veel personen met een visuele- en verstandelijke beperking ervaren stress. Mindfulness- en ontspanningsoefeningen kunnen dan helpen, maar het is vaak lastig om deze zelfstandig vol te houden. De inzet van interactieve robots is opkomst binnen de gehandicaptenzorg, en kan hierbij mogelijk ondersteuning bieden.

Wat gaan we onderzoeken?

In dit project wordt onderzocht in hoeverre zo’n interactieve robot geschikt is voor het begeleiden van ontspanningsoefeningen, in vergelijking met beschikbare alternatieven zoals audio-opnames of begeleiding door een therapeut. We bouwen voort op eerdere ervaringen met Robot Bart. Er is speciale aandacht voor het stemgebruik door de robot.

We verzamelen feedback van de deelnemers, de therapeut en een observator om een vergelijking te kunnen maken. Een ‘slimme sok’ zal bovendien de mate van (ont)spanning bij deelnemers bijhouden tijdens de verschillende typen oefeningen. De onderzoeksresultaten zullen aanwijzingen opleveren voor het doelgericht inzetten van interactieve robots om stress te verlagen.


Samenvatting van de aanvraag

The use of social robots in health care institutions is increasing steadily. These robots can perform a variety of functions, such as providing companionship, helping to maintain a daily routine, or helping to learn new skills. Also, robots are used in therapeutic settings, for example for teaching social skills to children with autism and bringing positive engagement in persons with dementia. The robot creates a predictable and engaging context for these users, with a limited number of stimuli. We expect that interactions with a robot can bring about positive engagement and access/openness to emotional states of learning through a robot can be effective and ‘fun’ for people with a visual and intellectual disabilities. This project investigates the extent to which a social robot can be used to offer relaxation exercises to clients with visual and intellectual disabilities. This group of clients is more susceptible than average to worry and stress, partly due to their combination of disabilities. Regular therapies targeting stress are often inaccessible to clients with intellectual disabilities, because the associated exercises are too complicated for them. However, interventions developed for people with intellectual disabilities are often very visually oriented, even though 25% of people with intellectual disabilities have a visual impairment or are blind. In regular care for persons with intellectual disabililities clients sometimes us ipods with specifically recorded exercises, but they find it difficult to maintain a routine of doing the exercises. Moreover, many persons with intellectual and visual disabilities cannot play these recordings without help. It is therefore important that there are tools available that appeal to people with intellectual disabilities, but that are also designed to fit the requirements of persons with visual impairment. We performed pilot studies with this user group which showed that talking to a robot is regarded as a fun and interesting activity by many clients with visual and intellectual disabilities. In the two previous studies, an intervention "Robot Bart stops worrying" was developed in which the participants helped the robot Bart with a problem he had. Together they followed three coping strategies that can help with worrying. Consequently, participants learned how to use these strategies by helping the robot. Based on experiences from these previous studies, we now want to investigate how effectively a robot can support relaxation exercises that are accessible for persons with an intellectual disability and a visual impairment. To this end, we compare exercises guided by the robot to exercises guided by a therapist and a pre-recorded relaxation exercise. The quality of the voice plays a crucial role for this group of users. Therefore, a standard voice of the robot is also compared to a robot voice that is adjusted in terms of intonation, velocity and pitch. To compare the effectiveness of the four conditions described above, a group of 72 adults with a (visual- and) intellectual disability will be involved in this study. Each participant will follow a series of relaxation exercises, divided over two sessions. The exercises are each guided in one of four ways: robot with adjusted or unadjusted voice, a therapist, or a recording. Information about the effectiveness of the exercises is collected through questionnaires for participants, and physiological measures. During the sessions, participants wear a "smart sock", which can follow the level of arousal in a participant by tracking their skin conductance. In this way, in addition to evaluating the degree of relaxation of participants during each exercise, we can also objectively compare the degree of relaxation between the four conditions. The results of this research will contribute to a more targeted use of robotics for therapeutic purposes. In addition, if the research shows that the robot is indeed suitable for offering such exercises, we can work further towards a database of relaxation exercises that fit the needs of persons with visual and intellectual disabilities. Clients could use a robot at home and ask for an exercise at any time. The therapeutic practice has proved that clients often find it difficult to perform these exercises independently, while caregivers are not always available to detect the need for relaxation or cannot guide the exercises themselves. In that case, a robot could (partially) take over this task. Although i-pods can be used for this purpose research results indicate that robots have several big advantages: the interaction with a robot increases the engagement (Hedgecock et al., 2014; Van Straten et al., 2018); and by asking the robot to start with a specific exercise gives the person with the disability more autonomy which contributes to higher level of well-being (Deci & Ryan, 2000).



Looptijd: 100%
Looptijd: 100 %
Gerelateerde subsidieronde:
Projectleider en penvoerder:
prof. dr. P.S. Sterkenburg PhD
Verantwoordelijke organisatie: