Dr. Lisa Wiese, associate professor of Nursing at Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, at Florida Atlantic University

by | Jan 5, 2022

Dr. Lisa Wiese—associate professor of Nursing at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and co-author of a study conducted recently at FAU, which found that interacting with a robotic pet can serve as a boon to the health of people with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia—recalls launching her lengthy nursing degree, becoming a nurse in what she calls “the Dark Ages”: 1978. Wiese discusses the subsequent degrees she pursued in the ensuing years, culminating in a PhD, in Nursing, from FAU, in 2013. She explains that the path of a PhD in nursing is typically pursued by those primarily interested in teaching and research, and that her research is concerned with Alzheimer’s—specifically, increasing the understanding, early detection, and prevention of the disease in rural populations. She notes that this academic interest was spurred, in part, by her mother’s experience with Alzheimer’s. Wiese addresses the genesis of the study involving patients with Alzheimer’s or related dementia, saying it was propelled by questions raised by a then-doctoral student, Bryanna Streit, inspired partly by results generated in studies featuring PARO, a sophisticated, interactive robotic seal. Wiese goes on to talk about the structure and process of the study that she and now-Dr. Streit conducted, and while the study was small in scope—12 participants interacting with the robotic cats two to three times per week, for 12 weeks—the findings, and implications, seem potentially enormous: They found that participants evidenced improvements in multiple mood assessments, and slight to moderate improvement in some categories of cognition assessments—notable and surprising, Wiese observes, because the brevity of the study had seemed likely to work against the possibility of cognitive improvement.   (https://www.fau.edu/newsdesk/articles/robotic-pet-cat-dementia.php, https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2021/11/02/dementia-robotic-cat/3011635801875/)


ALSO: I spoke briefly with Tiffany Grunert, the president and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, an enormous nonprofit dedicated to funding studies to improve the health of pets and wildlife. Additionally, as Grunert explained, the organization maintained a 50-year relationship with Betty White, who  died five days earlier; I invited Grunert on the show, to remember White and help pay tribute to her. We traded stories about White, including one I’d heard in which someone went to their grocery store one afternoon, saw that three women were tabling outside the entrance, discovering upon closer inspection, that one of the women was Betty White!  We also discussed a suggestion that had spread like proverbial wildfire online that, because White would have turned 100 on Jan 17, folks have been urged to pick a local rescue or animal shelter, and make a donation—as little as $5, more if they can swing it—in Betty White’s name. (https://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org)

COMEDY CORNER: Paula Poundstone’s “12 Cats” (https://paulapoundstone.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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