Train with Me: A Study Comparing a Socially Assistive Robot and a Virtual Agent for a Rehabilitation Task

Valentina Vasco, Cesco Willemse, Pauline Chevalier, Davide De Tommaso, Valerio Gower, Furio Gramatica, Vadim Tikhanoff, Ugo Pattacini, Giorgio Metta, Agnieszka Wykowska

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Long-term motor deficits affect approximately two thirds of stroke survivors, reducing their quality of life. An effective rehabilitation therapy requires intense and repetitive training, which is resource demanding. Virtual Agents (VAs) and Socially Assistive Robots (SARs) offer high intensity, repetitive and reproducible therapy and are thus both promising as rehabilitation tools. In this paper, we compare a SAR and a VA during a rehabilitation task in terms of users’ engagement and movement performance, while leveraging neuroscientific methods to investigate potential differences at the neural level. Results show that our participants’ performance on the exercise was higher with a SAR than with a VA, which was especially clear under conditions of decreased perceptual information. Our participants reported higher levels of engagement with the SAR. Taken together, we provide evidence that SARs are a favorable alternative to VAs as rehabilitation tools.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Robotics - 11th International Conference, ICSR 2019, Proceedings
EditorsMiguel A. Salichs, Shuzhi Sam Ge, Emilia Ivanova Barakova, John-John Cabibihan, Alan R. Wagner, Álvaro Castro-González, Hongsheng He
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9783030358877
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019
Event11th International Conference on Social Robotics, ICSR 2019 - Madrid, Spain
Duration: Nov 26 2019Nov 29 2019

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume11876 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference11th International Conference on Social Robotics, ICSR 2019


  • Embodiment
  • Socially assistive robot
  • Virtual agent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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