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Revolutionizing the Healthcare Industry With Collaborative Robots

Discover how robots in healthcare can improve and support the functioning of medical interventions, disabled individuals, care, and rehabilitation. 

Table of Contents
Introduction
1. Application of Collaborative Robots in Healthcare
1.1. Cobots in Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
1.2. Cobots in Precision Surgery
2. Ethical Considerations Concerning Collaborative Robots
Winding Up

Introduction 

The term robot was invented by the Robotics Institute of America in the late 1940s as a machine that executes mechanical functions just like human beings but lacks the same “sensitivity” as a human.

Initially, robots were designed and employed to work like humans, especially in the manufacturing industry, FMCG industry, and automotive industry, but later, robotics engineers observed that they were capable of working in other application areas due to their ability to multitask efficiently and faster. Hence, robotics engineers introduced medical robotics into the healthcare sector, causing a drastic change in the outlook for treatment and diagnostics. 

With advances in technologies, the utilization of robotic devices has upscaled from spearheading lab tests to automating medical procedures to collaborative robotics (cobots), helping healthcare workers in surgeries and improving treatment outcomes with negligible error encounters. 

This exclusive AI Tech Park article focuses on the application of cobots in healthcare while keeping ethical considerations in mind. In addition, we will also focus on the ongoing research and development of robotics in healthcare. 

1. Application of Collaborative Robots in Healthcare

In this section, we will highlight the application areas where collaboration between robots and healthcare practitioners can improve healthcare outcomes, such as helping with surgeries or offering personalized patient care. The below subtopics explore the different aspects of collaborative robots with humans.

1.1. Cobots in Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy

The rehab cobots are developed to help impaired and injured patients recover from accidents so that they can lead normal lives. One will find a variety of rehab robots that are intended to help patients with numerous medical conditions, including cerebral palsy, stroke, and injuries to bones or muscles. One such example is Orthoses, a robotic exoskeleton system that assists paralyzed patients in limb movement. This system works on “pre-set user-defined commands” that are fed into the robot to read the user’s mind and act accordingly.

Some studies show that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a positive reaction to therapies when interacting with cobots, as they have various AI functions such as playing games and recognizing facial expressions that keep patients motivated and entertained throughout the therapy journey. For instance, the Keepon robot developed by Hideki Kozima is a unique robot that studies autistic behavioral changes in children and monitors their overall health.  

1.2. Cobots in Precision Surgery

With the advancement of technology, cobots have been assisting surgeons in critical operations. These surgery cobots are categorized under Active Surgical Systems, which pre-program electronics and can work autonomously; Master-Slave Systems, which are totally under the control of surgeons; and Semi-Active Systems, which allow surgeon-driven electronics with pre-programmed electronics. The most commonly used cobot system (Master-Slave System) in the healthcare industry is the DaVinci system, a robotic arm that mimics the surgeon’s hand movement into smaller and more precise actions for less invasive and complex surgeon procedures.  

2. Ethical Considerations Concerning Collaborative Robots

The constant interaction between humans and cobots often raises privacy, security, and accountability issues, as these concerns are not limited to people who are utilizing them but also to those engineers and healthcare practitioners who develop, assemble, feed, and oversee the technologies. 

When it comes to robot-human contact, privacy is the utmost concern, as cobots have the potential to gather, store, and process large-scale data and advance themselves with time. The data may include personal and confidential information of patients, doctors, or engineers, which may be utilized in numerous ways to violate their privacy. 

To preserve individual privacy, it is important to set rules for data gathering and feeding algorithms in cobots, keeping in mind the regulations imposed by the government. Strong security features should not be overlooked while designing cobots, along with regular policy updates to fend off new threats.

Winding Up

Automation and robotics in healthcare are actively becoming part of the ecosystem, benefiting every stakeholder in the value chain. The rise of robots from lab testers to cobots is evidence that we have paved the route for revolutionizing the healthcare industry with new technologies.

In the coming years, we can expect robotic engineers and researchers to advance in sensors, communication, and motion control technologies that will enable medical cobots to be more precise and autonomous. The introduction of advanced surgical cobots will also widen the scope of assisting surgeons to single-handedly perform complex surgeries without much data feeding. Along with that, we can expect robots to make quick decisions by sensing the emergency of a patient’s condition. 

With this progressive mindset, the field of robotics will flourish, making way for new and unique applications for human welfare. 

Explore AITechPark for the latest advancements in AI, IOT, Cybersecurity, AITech News, and insightful updates from industry experts!

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