Pets robots are allies in the treatment of dementia and autism in Brazil

Pets robots are allies in the treatment of dementia and autism in Brazil

Technology is increasingly present in people's lives and brings new solutions to everyday problems. In this direction, the most different areas seek to develop new resources, such as medicine and the care sector. Examples of this are robot pets, an invention that is already a reality here in Brazil in certain mental health treatments, such as dementia and autism. The animals are even baptized by patients and answer by name.

Animals have always been important allies for men, since the time when they were necessary for hunting. Today, they play a fundamental role in the lives of many people & nbsp; as a company. However, having an animal also carries a number of responsibilities, such as & nbsp; attention, affection, walks, health care and healthy eating. & nbsp; not everyone is able to take care of this, and this is why robotic dogs and cats can be good allies when it comes to stimulating memory and feeling belonging to those who want to have the pet, but have limitations when caring.

Robotic pets enable Animal Assisted Therapy, for example, to become a reality for more patients. According to Dr. Marcella Bianca Neves, master in gerontology, “interaction with them reduces agitation, anxiety, in addition to working on social and emotional issues, such as changing affection, without needing all the care and attention that an animal needs to have , which can be unfeasible in some cases ”.

The furry little robots work on the basis of different sensors spread throughout the body, according to their species, and thus work their interactions via pre-established commands, in their software. When petting the cat's chest, the animal simulates licking its paw, and with other stimuli, it moves its ears and head, for example. The dog wags its tail, showing happiness, and can shake its head to both sides. When they stop receiving stimuli, these robots, in turn, call patients to continue the session, either through a bark or a meow, making the interaction happen on both sides.

For two months, since the end of August, the Marcella Bianca Brain Institute, in São Paulo, has had these "animals" for the treatment of patients with dementia and autism. From the Institute, Dr. Marcella states that “as pets work by sensors, both tactile and auditory, they challenge patients to generate new stimuli and reactions, with a bark, for example - which arouses the attention of children and the elderly ”. & Nbsp;

With the growing interest in therapy, pet robots have become a mandatory presence in the lives of patients. These animals even get their own names, like the black cat Mimi and the gray Peter, in addition to the dog Max. “The names were created together with the patients. And, during sessions, I always work on the name issue, which helps with memory. When I ask what the pet is called, I bring the element of emotion to the cognitive process, which makes memory better evoked. ”& Nbsp; & nbsp;

The Brazilian team had its first contact with the robot pets, in July, during the International Congress of the Alzheimer's Association, in Los Angeles. At the time, new treatments for patients with dementia were discussed, such as working with guide dogs for Assisted Therapy sessions and the robotic invention in question.

With the first version. created in 2015 by the American company Hasbro, the robot animals in the Joy for All Companion Pets series were co-developed from the demands and requests of family members and caregivers who sought to offer comfort and more affectionate relationships with aging entities. & nbsp;

Since then, these "pets" have won awards such as Today's Caregiver's Caregiver Friendly Award and the Dementia Society of America's Dementia SMART Award. In 2017, the Joy for All project development team founded Ageless Innovation, increasing the product's focus on stimulating the elderly.

Even with the successful treatment of dementia and autism, robot pets still depend on pre-established movements, and that means they do not learn from artificial intelligence (AI). But the scenario should change, soon, with the new technologies that are being developed day after day in the medical field, with a focus on mental health.

“In gerontology, dementia will be considered one of the most recurrent diseases in 5 years. In addition to the genetic impact, emotions, anxiety and depression are going to be causes of dementias ”, says Dr. Marcella. Therefore, technology must work on new fronts for brain stimulation, both directly, via electrostimulation, and indirectly, with cognitive training.

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), as the world population ages, the number of people living with dementia is expected to triple by 2050, from 50 million to 152 million. Alzheimer's disease being the most common type of dementia, which represents between 60 and 70% of cases. & Nbsp;

It is worth remembering that dementia is a neurodegenerative process, a loss that the brain is having and causes cognitive impairments, such as loss of attention and memory. With aging, it is normal to notice cognitive loss, but when it becomes something pathological, dementia appears. Without a cure, what is expected with cognitive activities is to delay the worsening and increase the quality of life of patients. And for that, the pets have already shown that they have potential.

This Friday (22), Positivo Tecnologia, the Educational Portal, Katru Assessoria em Informação and the psychiatrist Jairo Bouer released a study called Technology and the Youth, which points out that more than half of young Brazilians exaggerate sometimes or always in the use of technologies, and this impacts mental health. According to the analysis, teenagers who stay connected for more than nine hours a day are 2.4 times more likely to experience things like sadness, anxiety, anguish and stress.

"It is not possible to say that it is only the fault of technology. The impact can be personal, familiar. But it is related, yes. It appeared in a very clear way. I think it shows a kind of fragility", says Bouer. According to him, the increased exposure of personal life, aggressive comments and a sense of disrepute can result in this impact. "The feeling that they can enjoy it or not draws attention to their self-esteem. They already have very big issues in this aspect and social networks are getting worse," he says. According to Ivete Gattás, coordinator of Upia (Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit) at Unifesp (Federal University of São Paulo), the more young people stay in networks, the less they live in real life. "They end up living in a parallel world in which everyone seems happy, appropriate. Connected, there is no lack. He presses a button and can have everything. If he doesn't like it, he hangs up. It's a different way of working than the real world," he says. .

The professional points out that the cycle involving posting, interacting and being alert to new interactions affects not only psychological, but also physical health, taking into account that the individual eats badly because he does not want to disconnect, stops exercising, and is deprived of sleep. "The next day, he doesn't go to school or sleeps in class, he has cognitive and academic impairment. This has consequences for his life and future". Bouer also believes that the exaggerated connection increases the number of absences, worsens the grade and increases the risk of the student failing. "Despite being a generation that learns faster, perhaps the heavier use of nets is a hindrance," he says.

The survey numbers point to a generation that seems to suffer more. According to Bouer, social networks bring a constant comparison with each other. "It is an edited universe and they think it is true", he laments.

Dr Peter Bowan Scott-Morgan, a British scientist known for important work in the field of robotics, was diagnosed in 2017 with a motor neuron disease (MND), which affects motor neurons and impairs speech, walking , breathing, swallowing and general body movement - such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. With that diagnosis, doctors gave him just two more years to live.

Well, since Peter is considered a “brilliant scientist”, he did what we usually see in comics: he refused to accept that fate and, in partnership with Intel and DXC Technology, decided to invent a high-tech project technology handle cases of extreme disability. And so, according to himself, “the most advanced human cybernetic organism ever created in 13.8 billion years” must be born. He himself will be the “guinea pig”, becoming a mixture of man and machine.

The process included a series of operations to insert a feeding tube directly into the stomach, a catheter in the bladder and a colostomy bag in the colon, so that it can deal with food and hygiene issues. Peter also underwent a laryngectomy, to avoid the additional risk of saliva entering the lungs - he said that he would thus be exchanging his natural voice for "potentially decades of life".

The scientist now has synthetic speech and has developed a "realistic face avatar" designed to respond using artificially intelligent body language - although it has yet to be shown how exactly it works.

Peter performed laser eye surgery, which allows for perfect vision at 70 centimeters from the computer screen. This allows him to control multiple computers with eye movement. In addition, your wheelchair is agile and uses a mechanism that can keep you upright, sitting or lying down.

Those were Peter's words, after carrying out all these operations and implementing the communication system. He even joked, saying he still has "more updates in development than Microsoft". The scientist believes that this project may be the first of several others that could extend people's lives. "Over time, more and more people diagnosed with MND, extreme disability or who are old and simply want to get rid of the 'physical straitjacket' will choose to stay by my side. And we will be proud ... because we simply refuse to 'remain ', he wrote, on the blog where he records all the phases of this transformation.

Along with her husband, Francis, Peter has been pressuring parliamentarians to get money for his campaign, called “Right to prosper”, for people with MND. According to him, less than 1% of those diagnosed with the disease receive what he calls a "life-saving combination": a machine connected to the throat, which helps to cough and clear the lungs. "We need to make a bigger noise than the clamor for business or Brexit. For a long time, the voice of the MND has been largely unknown," he added.

The human brain and its functioning are still a great unknown for science. And one of the causes of this mystery is brain plasticity - its ability to restructure and adapt if any of its parts are damaged or removed. Under these circumstances, it is able to form new neurons that complete its voids.

In a new study, published in the journal Cell Reports, researchers in California have shown that brain plasticity is much more powerful than previously thought. Within specific cases, adults who had half their brain removed as children, in a procedure known as hemispherectomy, lead a normal life.

The technique was first used in the 1920s, for the treatment of malignant brain tumors. But its success in children with brain malformations, intractable seizures or illnesses, in which the damage is confined to half the brain, surprised the scientists.

After the procedure, many children are still able to walk, talk, read and perform daily tasks. In addition, approximately 20% of patients who had half of the organ removed find paid employment as adults. These individuals may even have stronger neural connections than those who have never had sudden changes in the brain.

The challenge for scientists now is to find out how it happened, which could trigger new treatments for strokes or other forms of brain damage. In the American study, the neural function and connectivity of six people, between 20 and 30 years old, who underwent hemispherectomy between three months and 11 years old were examined.

Since when the research began, doctors have known that patients with hemispherectomy have lived a normal life after the procedure, but until then only fragmented case studies have been carried out, which did not reveal the extent to which the brain was able to recover.

Given the results obtained, the California Institute of Technology team said they were surprised at how well the brains cut in half adapted and reorganized over time.

"The brain is extraordinarily plastic," said Dorit Kliemann, a cognitive neuroscientist at the California Institute of Technology and the study's first author. "It can compensate for a substantial loss of brain structure (since in children) and, in some cases, the remaining networks can support almost typical cognition," he adds.

"The people with hemispherectomies we studied had a remarkably high functioning," said researcher Dorit Kliemann. “They have intact language skills. When I put them on the scanner, we talked for a bit, as did the hundreds of other people I scanned. ”

"Whenever we looked at his brain scans, we said, 'Wow, that brain really shouldn't work,'" explains Ralph Adolphs, a neuroscientist at the California Institute of Technology. “If you take any system that has several parts, where certain functions depend on others, like the heart, and you split it in half, it will not work. If you take my laptop and cut it in half, it won't work ”, he exemplifies.

Most brain networks use both hemispheres to function. This is the case with facial recognition that involves both sides of the cortex. Another example is the ability to move the limbs, which are processed by opposite sides of the brain. The right hemisphere controls movement on the left side of the body and vice versa.

"It's as if you need all the different members of a band to play together to get synchronized and coherent music," explains Marlene Behrmann, a cognitive neuroscientist who did not participate in the study.

Surprisingly, what the researchers found is that, although the type of connection remained the same in individuals with only one hemisphere, different regions responsible for processing sensory and motor information, such as vision, attention and social suggestions, strengthened the existing connections. They communicated more often with each other than with ordinary brains.

In a way, it was almost as if parts of the brain that normally specialized in a certain function, like playing an instrument, were talking to other partners and started playing other instruments as well, explains Marlene Behrmann. In this way, "your brain networks appear to be multitasking," he concludes.

The results are encouraging for researchers trying to understand how the brain adapts and works after a hemispherectomy, but this knowledge can lead to new discoveries in the field of science. After all, this research begins to build a new truth for the human brain: that its plasticity is a more lasting phenomenon.

November is one of the busiest months for retailers here in Brazil, and the reason for that has a name: Black Friday. The date has been a tradition of the United States since the 1950s, and it always happens on the last Friday of November (this year, therefore, on the 29th), right after Thanksgiving Day. For retailers in the United States, Black Friday marks the official start of Christmas shopping (the busiest time of the trade), and for this reason many of them celebrate the date by offering great discounts to customers.

In the last decade, this tradition not only arrived in Brazil but became a success. Here, Black Friday soon became one of the days of the years with the greatest amount of sales in both traditional and electronic commerce. According to Google data, in 2017 R $ 2.1 billion was spent on purchases during Black Friday alone, which shows the importance of the date for commerce.

But, although about half of these purchases were made by mobile devices, half of Brazilian Internet users choose not to buy through virtual stores, and one of the reasons most cited by these consumers is the lack of trust in stores and the fear of being a victim. fraud. So, so that you don't have to give up a purchase because of this, we will quote here five tips on how to buy and sell on the internet during Black Friday with total security.

Acronym used for the term Secure Socket Layer, SSL is the encryption mechanism used by the website to ensure that the data that will be sent to their base (customer name, shipping address, credit card number) will be properly encrypted. The importance of this type of protection is to ensure that, in case some type of attacker is trying to steal this data during the sending process (using spyware, for example), the SSL certificate will ensure that the information stolen by that attacker just be a bunch of meaningless symbols, and only the store server (which has the encryption key) will be able to “translate” these symbols and transform them into the information you entered to make the purchase.

Thus, the presence of the digital certificate is mandatory to ensure that you are shopping in a safe environment and to prevent you from falling victim to scams like Phishing. To ensure that the store you are accessing has this certificate up to date (and therefore that you will be able to make a secure purchase) it is very easy: just look in the left part of your browser's address bar (where the URL appears) of the website you are accessing). If there is a closed padlock symbol to the left of the website address, it is because you are browsing in a safe environment and can make your purchases without problems.

Now, if what appears there is something else (it depends on each browser, and it can be an open lock, a lock with an “X” over it or, in the case of Chrome, a very clear message that says “not safe ”), It is because the store does not protect your data - which lights up a fraud alert on the panel.

As Black Friday is the busiest day for stores, many end up trying to deceive consumers in the period, offering “ghost” discounts. It's that “pay half the double” story: with a few days left for Black Friday, the store raises the price of a product a lot, so that it can sell at the same price as before during the date, but now announcing a “super discount” ”Of 50%.

This tactic still works for many companies because it is not in the profile of the Brazilian consumer to research the price of a product they want to buy in advance, with 40% of people starting to research prices only during the week of Black Friday (and 18% of these). they do this research only on the date), and 6% of consumers do not research in the competition, believing that what they are paying is really the lowest price in the market.

To avoid falling for these scams, it is important to use applications that compare prices, as they make your life a lot easier. One of the best is Buscapé, which not only makes the comparison between the current price of several sites, but also makes the comparison of historical price within the same site (revealing if the Black Friday discount is real or if the value of the product has been increased in the last few weeks so that the company can offer this discount) and even allows you to save a product and define the price you are willing to pay for it, sending an automatic alert when a website starts offering this product for a price equal to or less than the configured price.

One of the most common forms of fraud involves sending emails, WhatsApp chains or text messages directly to victims' cell phones, usually offering huge discounts or free products after registering. Often, these are fake messages that take advantage of a time when people are searching for products and making a lot of purchases over the internet to try to scam the most inattentive users.

In terms of e-mail, the ideal is to keep an eye on the sender of the message. Any more serious company or website has its own name after the "@" in the e-mail address (for example, an e-mail sent by Lojas Americanas will have in the address something like "[email protected]"). Therefore, if you receive any “offers” emails from an address that is @gmail, @yahoo, @hotmail or similar, you can ignore that it is fraud.

Another thing to pay attention, especially when we talk about the currents of WhatsApp: the type of promotion being offered. Although practically all stores have special promotions at this time of year, all of them are usually linked to the purchase of a certain amount inside the store (for example, winning an exclusive gift when making R $ 150 in purchases). Promotions that promise free products just by filling out forms are not the type of marketing used by large stores, especially if they ask to share with X number of friends after filling them out. So, if you get something like the suspicious, it could be a scam.

As for promotions sent directly by SMS, suspect that any message like "you won an exclusive prize!" Followed by a link, as this is the most basic form of scam, where the link in the message will take you to a fake website in which the criminal will try to steal your data. So, to avoid problems, it is recommended that you ignore any access link that is sent directly by text message. You can trust messages that send discount coupons (for example, a hypothetical “BLACKFRIDAY10” coupon that would give you 10% off purchases on the site during Black Friday), but even in these cases it is recommended not to click on the link in the message, and use the coupon by accessing the website directly through the app itself or official URL.

This tip is more geared towards those who have an online store and intend to sell their products during Black Friday: according to a survey released in 2018 by Verizon Enterprise Solutions, 58% of all cyber attacks that occurred in 2017 targeted the little ones Business. And the reason for this is very simple: as they do not have large network infrastructures, these businesses are the ones that are most unprotected against attacks, making them an easy target.

One of the measures to prevent becoming a victim of these attacks is the use of SiteLock, a tool that will periodically check your website, e-mail and other applications (such as its own app or online catalog) looking for possible vulnerabilities. If found, the tool will send a real-time alert explaining what this vulnerability is, so that the virtual store administrator can fix it.

Another good service to protect against attacks is CodeGuard, which performs daily backups of the website, allowing you to recover specific files, or even delete the restoration of the website as a whole, in a matter of minutes, with a very simple interface to handle .

If you have an online store, it is your responsibility to ensure that your customers have a safe experience when shopping for Black Friday, and a way to offer security, quick loading of pages and greater stability for your website as a whole is by subscribing the HostGator Turbo Plan.

This plan assists all those looking for a high performance solution for their pages, and the optimization guaranteed by HostGator doubles the processing capacity of simultaneous processes, allowing you to have twice as many visitors to your site during Black Friday without any prejudice to the functioning. In addition, the fact that all data storage is on SSD allows texts and images on your website to load up to 10x faster than on conventional services.

When you hire HostGator's Turbo Plan, you will have access to 150 GB of SSD storage for your website, unlimited MySQL databases, JavaScript compatibility, PHP 5.6 ++ and all major web languages, unlimited own email accounts (allowing to send e-mails from “@nomedasuaempresa” addresses, making these submissions much more professional), more than 100 application options for systems based on WordPress, Joomla and Drupal for making blogs, portals, discussion forums and virtual stores, a Data Center that ensures 99.9% availability for the website and a free SSL certificate, to guarantee your customers that your store is a safe place for shopping.

Best of all, the plan is already priced at Black Friday, and you can hire it this month at the lowest price of the year. To find out more about it, just go to the HostGator website hosting page, where you can check all the details for hiring or speak to one of the company's online attendants.

And, if you need even more power and autonomy for your website, HostGator has a new line of VPS servers and dedicated servers, which are perfect for advanced projects, as they have state-of-the-art processors and guarantee full access to the system root , allowing more advanced administrators to have control over every detail of their sites.