The number of older people in the world increases rapidly. Modern scientific thoughts and hi-tech technologies give the possibility to use robots in rehabilitation processes. There are two main groups of health care robots by practical application: noninteractive and interactive.
Surgical Robots are used in different kinds of surgery (gynecology, cardiology, etc.) when maximum accuracy is needed and to minimize the damage from surgical intervention. Those are the robots that are replacing surgeon’s hands, and “these devices have no artificial intelligence or independent functioning and do not perform autonomous tasks, but are under the direct control of a surgeon who usually works from a remote console to insert robot-controlled instruments into a patient” (Nejat, Sun, & Nies, 2009).
Rehabilitation Robots are helping people with limited abilities to live a full life. There are home-use robots (wheelchairs) and therapeutic systems when a person needs a partial rehabilitation (smart walker). They are used, for example, by patients with injuries of extremities, or if they can not walk independently. They “can support movement therapy of the lower and upper extremities, including neurologically impaired limbs” (Nejat, Sun, & Nies, 2009).
Medication Delivery Robots – arecourier ones for delivery of different kinds of medical equipment between the nursing floors or hospital departments.
Those are the most technologically sophisticated and socially assistive robots.
Animal/Creature-Like Interactive Robots are actual animal simulators which are endowed by the properties such as fur, moving eyes, voice, etc. They are designed for people with allergic reactions or institutions where for some reasons, real animals are forbidden. Although, their presence is recommended to improve the psychological state of patients, “furthermore, preliminary short-term studies in nursing homes have shown that these types of robots can potentially provide both psychological and physiological improvements such as improved social interaction skills and reduced stress levels” (Nejat, Sun, & Nies, 2009).
Human-Like Interactive Robots – are humanoid systems thatrepresent almost all social and physiological abilities of real human beings and are able to recreate human emotions. They are designed for people with various mental disabilities such as autism, Down's syndrome, etc. Moreover, the inventors hope that they will soon become full assistance in nursery. Also, “the human-like capabilities of these types of robots allow performing of both social and physical support tasks to aid a human” (Nejat, Sun, & Nies, 2009). The best known robots are assistive ones “Brian”, “Clara,” and “Kaspar”.
Today robots are widely used in all levels of U.S. health care system, and their field of application extends rapidly. Modern medical robots can perform a variety of tasks from simple supply of medicines to complex surgical procedures. According to modern requirements, the role of robots in health care will continue to increase in close future.
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