South Korea’s Myongji Hospital to develop robots that support dementia patients


Myongji Hospital, a tertiary healthcare facility in South Korea’s Gyeonggi province, is developing an AI-controlled care robot to support patients with dementia.

The AI ​​robot called “PIO” is being developed under a recently signed technology development agreement with Whydots, a local robot manufacturer.

WHY IS

The PIO robot, which resembles a parrot, aims to stimulate attachment and emotions in early dementia patients. It has a camera that recognizes its user’s face and facial expressions and can express emotions through its LED eyes and body movements.

In its development, Myongji will bring his experience and clinical data from dementia patients collected by the Baekse chongmyung school, which runs the hospital’s community-based dementia management program. The hospital will also create cognitive intervention content.

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WHY IT MATTERS

According to a press release, PIO can help relieve depression and improve users’ emotional stability and cognitive abilities. A first test of the technology earlier this year found it helped improve the emotional state and mental abilities of patients at Baekse Chongmyung School. It has also been highly satisfied by users.

PIO is also expected to reduce the workload for caregivers by interacting with patients while supporting the management of their condition.

THE BIGGER TREND

Local governments in South Korea have provided escort robots to single adults and people with mental health problems to support their well-being. The government of Chungnam province, for example, is currently testing AI-based care robots, which will be used to communicate with single residents and people with mental health issues as part of its suicide prevention efforts. Seoul’s Gwanak district followed suit, using the AI ​​robot named Channy to serve as a personal companion for single adults in their community.

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ON THE RECORD

South Korea’s elderly population is growing rapidly, accounting for about 16% of the total population, or 8.53 million last year. This rising trend could continue, potentially reaching around 13 million in 2030 and 17 million in 2040, according to Statistics Korea. By 2050, people aged 65 and over may account for over 40% of the total population.

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“As the number of dementia patients is expected to increase due to the rapid aging of the population, adequate and effective treatment and treatment of dementia is urgently needed,” said Kim Jin-gu, director of Myongji Hospital.

He added that Myongji Hospital will continue to develop technology and produce content for dementia-friendly AI care robots with its know-how and expertise acquired through operating Baekse chongmyung school.



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