Residents of the Larson House in Columbus, and other Platinum Communities assisted living facilities, will be among the first in Wisconsin to “adopt” PARO, a lifelike, interactive robot baby harp seal designed to produce the documented benefits of animal therapy to patients in hospitals and extended-care facilities.

“Research clearly shows that PARO reduces patient and caregiver stress, stimulates interaction between patients and caregivers, and improves relaxation and motivation and socialization,” said Platinum Communities President and CEO John Teresinski. “PARO not only imitates animal behavior, it responds to light, sound, temperature and touch and, over time, develops its own character. This will be a tremendous benefit to our residents.”

Designed by Dr. Takanori Shibata of Intelligent Research Institute and developed over 16 years, PARO’s five sensors enable it to “feel” and react to being stroked, held, recognize a voice and words, including its name, praise and greetings.

“PARO can respond as if it’s alive and sounds like a real baby harp seal,” Teresinski said.

PARO has been used extensively in Japan and Europe since 2003.

Platinum Communities operates six assisted living and memory care communities throughout Wisconsin, caring for more than 250 residents. At each state-licensed facility, staff develops individualized care plans based on clients’ unique physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs.

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