A Guest Blog by Dennis Spaeth, Electronic Media Editor at Cutting Tool Engineering
Robotics are becoming increasingly present in many different industries. In the medical world, robots and AI are helping medical professionals conduct procedures, understand the risk of surgical complications, and provide more precise patient care.
But robotics and AI are still evolving to pave the way for a brighter future for new and improved medical possibilities. So how are robots changing the medical landscape and where are we headed from here?
Domo Arigato, Dr. Roboto: Robots In The Medical Field
The healthcare industry was one of the first industries to see robotics at work. In fact, arm-like automatons first appeared in the medical field during the 1960s and 1970s.
These automatons, dubbed Shakey (1966) and the Stanford Arm (1969), helped (and continue to help) surgeons perform complicated surgeries that were more difficult to do by hand.
These automatons were so successful that one-third of American hospitals have at least one surgical robot providing medical assistance today.
From robotic surgical arms to therapy assistants, robotics have had a positive impact on the healthcare industry. In fact, here are a few other ways robotics and AI have been improving the medical field and helping medical professionals do their best.
- Artificial intelligence can help to identify surgical complications. One of the biggest problems older patients face is the risk of surgical complications. Depending on one’s age and medical history, certain patients may be more at risk for complications after surgery. Engineers have been developing algorithms that would make it easier to identify potential surgical complications in given patients. This can help prepare medical professionals to tend to these complications directly if they were to happen.
- Robotics reduce the need for invasive procedures. Invasive procedures can be expensive. They can also take longer to heal from, whether the patient is young or elderly. Robotic surgeons (such as the robotic arm) make it easier and less expensive for surgeons to perform a certain procedure. Because the robot’s tools are small, the surgeon is better able to access the surgical area. This reduces the risk of muscle tears and tissue damage.
- Robots can help reduce injuries among medical professionals. Back injuries are one of the most common nonfatal injuries experienced by medical professionals in the healthcare sector. This is because medical professionals need to lift patients in and out of bed, wheelchairs, and gurneys. Robots can help reduce the risk for these injuries. Robear, a large automaton teddy bear, was first developed by Japanese companies Sumitomo Riko Company and RIKEN. The robot is designed to lift and move patients, help them stand, and turn on the bed.
- Artificial intelligence can identify where doctors may be needed most. California startup company One Concern has designed an algorithm that can detect where first responders and medical assistance may be needed most after an earthquake. By identifying the areas in given a city where the earthquake has struck the hardest and comparing the data to population numbers and residential areas, medical professionals will be able to respond to disaster situations faster and save more lives.
The world is headed for another technological revolution with robotics and AI becoming increasingly present in every industry. But what’s most exciting is that robotics and AI are making the healthcare industry a safer, more efficient, and less expensive field.