Health and tech: A robot could take care of you when you are old

By April 5, 2019Uncategorized

Robotic technology in the field of health has had a great impact in recent years. In fact, by 2019, the application of artificial intelligence in robots to work dynamics is expected to increase hospital productivity by 10 to 15 percent over the next 2 or 3 years, according to Forbes.

There is evidence that many of the tasks traditionally performed by humans are being replaced by more efficient robots, not only in the field of health but also in many other sectors. However, the evolution of this replacement will also depend on the degree of innovation in each country.

At present, the medical sector has robots, mostly directed by human beings, to do many daily tasks. The challenge for the next few years will be to make these tasks autonomous as well. But what are these robots, what do they do and how do they improve medical care? One of the most important tasks, with the greatest number of investigations written about it, is patient care and the social interaction capacity of the robots. In other words, robotics for care and rehabilitation.

“Robots will increase hospital productivity by 10 to 15 por cent over the next 2 years”

However, there are also many other applications that are triumphing in the sector, such as surgery through less incisive and more precise robots. In fact, according to Analytics Insight, the most important robotics companies belong to this sector for the most part. One example is Medrorobotics, which provides invasive surgeries to patients. It even launched an assisted platform to help surgeons in their operations.

In this post, we will focus on describing some of the most important applications in the field of social interaction with humans. This aspect faces one of the main challenges in this century for the robotics sector: to know how humans can interact with robots.

An example of these interactions can be found in a person who needs a robotic prosthesis to do an activity. In fact, even in medical recovery, people can be guided by a robot and not by a doctor. A  study published in ASME (The American Society of Mechanical Engineers) states that, after doing case analysis, people trained with robots after a stroke do not show any difference compared to those treated with a traditional therapy measured by humans.

  • In Japan, you’ll be cared for by a robot of older age

These types of robots help people regain certain capabilities they have lost. For example, in people with physical disabilities. They are very important robots to improve people’s quality of life. They can also be essential for recovery after a stroke or spinal cord injury. Similarly, there are robots that will replace functions such as accompaniment.

Nursing homes in Japan are already using robots that care for the elderly. The Shin-Tomi nursing home in Tokyo uses 20 different models of robots to care for its residents. Hirohisa Hirukawa, director of robot innovation research at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, told The Guardian in an interview that “the goals included relieving the burden of nursing staff and increasing the autonomy of people still living at home”.

Moreover, the Japanese government has established a strategic plan that expects four out of five people in need of care to agree to robot support by 2020. If you want to learn more, watch the following video.

  • A Robot Can Help Children With Autism

A robot’s ability to socialize can also help children with diseases such as autism, as is the case of the British robot Kaspar, created two years ago, which has helped thousands of children in England with autism who have problems with socializing. But what can a robot offer that a human being cannot? In this case, Yale University researcher Brian Scassellati explains in a video how robots possess the degree of socialization indicated for a person with autism since they are not as social as humans and do not cause them anxiety.

“The goals included relieving the burden of nursing staff and increasing the autonomy of people still living at home”

For this reason, robots do not seek to overcome human capabilities, but to complete them. Researcher Brian Scassellati tested his theory through 12 families with autistic children. The robots interacted with them every day for 30 minutes over 30 days. The results were better than expected in all areas. For example, children interacted better with people, were more sociable and able to cope with everyday situations.

The Kaspar robot interacts with a child | Redbull

  • Robots help us understand depression

Many areas of medicine and science can benefit from robots, including neuroscience. In fact, according to scientist Zachary Mainen, there are many similarities between a brain and a robot programmed with artificial intelligence. Let’s say that software with errors could be likened to a depressed software. This software would need new ways of capturing information in order not to have any errors. The same can be said of people. They need to reconstruct the information they have in their brains in order to cope with depression.

For this reason, Mainen argues that the evolution of artificial intelligence toward greater flexibility will help scientists understand illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia.  Of course, a machine can never understand suffering, however, it can give some guidelines on how we can deal with illness and whether current therapies are the right ones.

  • A robot can replace your doctor

There are areas in different, more isolated countries that do not have constant medical care. Today, there are already robots that can diagnose a patient through artificial intelligence. The Japanese firm iFlytek has already developed a robot that has passed the exams required to practice in a hospital in the city of Hefei. For now, the robot is supervised by a human, who must qualify for their diagnoses. This video shows you how the robot works.

The relationship between humans and robots will be very important in the coming years. For now, the human being will have to take care of the robot, but maybe someday the shoe will be on the other foot.


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