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Robots Are Redefining Health Care

Medical robots can help both patients and caregivers.

Every state in the U.S. lacks thousands of nurses as of 2021, and the deficit is only expected to worsen during the following ten years. Even though nurses work incredibly hard, there just aren't enough of them to care for every single patient. Robotic nurses are assisting understaffed teams. Every day, nurses must perform numerous basic tasks like drawing blood and checking vital signs. Although these are significant tasks, their sheer volume causes physical and mental stress in nurses. Many of these everyday chores can be carried out by today's medical robots. A venipuncture robot, for instance, may create a 3D image of a patient's arm to show a nurse exactly where the patient's vein is, making it considerably more straightforward and quicker to take blood. This also enhances the patient experience, as many people find needles unpleasant and terrifying. Additionally, autonomous nursing robots can assist with tasks like patient lifting and transfers and patient vitals monitoring. The task being assigned to a robot allows nurses to spend more time improving patient care.

The importance of cleaning and disinfecting care areas has significantly increased in light of the COVID-19 epidemic. Today's healthcare facilities must consistently provide high-quality disinfection because it is essential to the healing process. For instance, catching a virus while a patient is recovering from surgery in the hospital may be fatal. However, deep cleaning calls for devoted staff and a lot of time, both of which are in high demand in the modern healthcare industry. Therefore, sanitation and disinfection tasks are ideal for medical robots. This is an easy, tedious job that requires no talent. Maintenance employees can concentrate on more important activities, like repairs or cleaning up spills or messes, by delegating cleaning to a UV disinfection robot. Since UV disinfection robots can kill bacteria, germs, and viruses on surfaces by simply shining a UV beam over them, they have replaced traditional sanitizing methods in healthcare facilities. The robot independently moves through rooms and corridors while sanitizing whatever surfaces it comes into contact with.

Support on an emotional level is crucial to the healing process. It has been discovered that patients can receive this emotional support from robots remarkably effectively. Sometimes, all it takes is having someone to converse with or sit next to. The "Stevie" robot, created by academics at Trinity College Dublin, is an excellent illustration of a robotic assistant in action.

2019 saw the testing of Stevie in an elderly care facility with 300 residents. Residents may converse with the robot and even play games with it. The study's investigators discovered that the locals actually liked being around Stevie and even invited him to a karaoke party. However, Stevie is not just for chatting and playing cards; while resting with residents, the robot continually monitors them for symptoms of medical discomfort. In addition, it can recognize vocal commands such as "help me," identify them as an emergency and contact nursing or medical personnel. This level of functioning is hugely beneficial to individuals of all ages. In addition, this type of robot might be there throughout the healing process, offering emotional support as well as assuring safety.

Recently, Researchers at NTU Singapore's Rehabilitation Research Institute of Singapore (RRIS) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital have developed a wearable assistive robot that can detect and prevent a fall before it occurs, lowering the user's risk of injury. The National Robotics Program, a multi-agency national program that looks at the end-to-end development of differentiating robotics enablers and solutions in Singapore, from funding R&D to facilitating partnerships for translation and adoption to maximize socio-economic impact, catalyzed the development of the robot, which can also be used to aid patients' rehabilitation from their injuries. The Mobile Robotic Balance Assistant, or MRBA (pronounced 'Mister-Bah,' detects a loss of balance with its inbuilt sensors and catches the user with its associated safety harness, which is worn around the user's hips.

The device also assists users who have trouble walking and balancing to securely stand up from a seated position and comfortably sit down from a standing position. It also employs a depth-sensing camera to monitor the user's motions. At the same time, machine-learning algorithms estimate the user's balance status in real-time in order to better forecast potential imbalances or falls. It is intended for use in both institutional and home settings with minimal caregiver assistance. In addition, it can help people with limited or reduced mobility with day-to-day tasks such as entering and exiting elevators, opening doors, getting dressed, performing simple kitchen chores, and tasks such as watering plants.

Medical robots are making healing faster, safer, and smarter for both caregivers and patients. For nurses and healthcare teams, medical robots ease stress and staffing shortages. In addition, robots provide companionship, mobility, and tailored care to patients. Robotics is an industry that is constantly evolving. This is only the beginning for medical robots, and future improvements will undoubtedly further transform healthcare by enabling intuitive healing based on cutting-edge technology.



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