Guest Post by Philip J Reed
on behalf of The International Institute for Robotic Surgery, a George Washington University Hospital program performing minimally invasive robotic surgery procedures
Medical robots are becoming even more of a common feature in hospitals across the country. With unrivaled accuracy and the ability to perform complicated medical procedures without tiring, medical robots are an asset to the health community and patients. The enhancements in modern technology have brought medical robots into numerous health related fields including surgery, drug dispensing and patient visits.
In 1985, doctors used the first medical robot to assist during a brain biopsy. In fact, the doctors used the robot to place the needle. A few years later, surgeons began using robots during prostate surgery and professionals have consistently continued to advance the technology.
Robots and Surgery
In 2007, Dr. Sutherland released his medical robot the neuroArm. When doctors use the device, they can remotely perform neurosurgery with assistance from an MRI. During a neuroArm procedure, the surgeon will direct the robotic device from an adjacent workspace. The surgeon will have access to a 3D image while guiding the robot, which will ensure accuracy and patient safety.
When robots perform a surgical procedure, they provide enhanced precision along with magnified images. In addition, the robot’s arms have the ability to enter smaller areas of the body.
The most popular medical robot in recent years is the da Vinci Surgical System. Surgeons with access to a da Vinci device are likely to perform laparoscopic surgeries, and with the robotic tool, surgeons can decrease bleeding, scarring, postsurgical pain and patient recovery time.
When patients first see the da Vinci System, they might find it intimidating with its many arms featuring surgical equipment. However, its overall design will help a surgeon complete an intricate procedure with a limited amount of invasiveness and decreased discomfort. During the medical treatment, the surgeon will control the device from a console. In addition, the system will record the procedure’s progress.
Robots in Hospitals
In today’s hospitals, doctors can conveniently make their rounds with help from a hospital robot. The device may remind patients of a large vacuum cleaner that includes a computer monitor. When employing the rolling robot, hospital doctors can monitor their patients remotely. An added benefit to robotic rounds is the lack of disturbance that they cause the patients. With the remote device, doctors can assess their patient’s vital signs and check their progress.
Modern hospitals also feature methods, such as radio-frequency identification cards, for improving the response time of their medical staff. The cards record the location of staff and equipment, which improves efficiency. With technologically advanced beds, patients receive 24-hour care as the furnishing will automatically monitor their breathing and heart rate. If a patient begins to struggle, then the hospital staff will receive an immediate alert. With robot technology, doctors are able to watch over their patients more often and can even check on them after they have gone home for the day.
Medical progressions are heading toward a future where doctors from all over the country can review a patient’s entire medical history from the ill person’s skin implant. In addition, medical robots help hospitals lower their error rates, decrease their patient’s anxiety levels and quicken healing. In fact, it is the intention of hospitals to keep people out of the facility and to receive the bulk of their treatment at home.
When hospitals include robots in their patient rooms and hallways, they also prevent hospital staff from contracting airborne illnesses.
Robots and Nursing
Robots are unlikely to replace nurses as the job features unpredictability and complicated routines. However, they are able to help nurses in a variety of tasks such as lifting patients and assessing test results. Today’s hospital robots transport laboratory samples, medical supplies and medications, which permits nurses to focus on their patients.
Robot technicians are even programming future devices to sterilize surgical equipment and count the number of instruments present after a surgery. As the field advances, future robots will be useful for the elderly and disabled since they can offer at home nursing assistance.
Robots and Physical Therapy
Stroke victims are receiving robotic help with a recent MIT invention. The robot encourages improvement in upper body motor skills during therapy sessions and is similar to an arcade machine with a joystick and a console. When a patient uses the robot, a physical therapist will strap the patient’s hand and arm onto the robot-controlled joystick. An image will appear on the screen and present a challenge to the patient who will attempt to shift the joystick toward the target. If the patient’s hand shifts away from the target, then the robotic joystick will gently move the patient toward the right direction. The process will assist the patient in regaining neural attachments in order to improve motor skills.
Israeli scientists recently introduced new robot technology involving micro robots. The little robots are small enough to move around inside of a patient’s blood vessels. Theoretically, they will release more details about the human body. In fact, once micro robots become available for hospitals all around the world, doctors may find themselves diagnosing their patients with conditions they did not expect.
A recent pilot program replaced human medicine delivery with self-directing robots. The test results came back mixed as approximately 10 percent of the robots became lost during their delivery while some patients expressed dissatisfaction with their appearance. However, as hospitals continue to implement new programs with robots, they will improve their efficiency while discovering better ways to treat their patients.
Today’s busy world requires that medical experts use their time wisely, and with robots, they can see patients remotely, ensure proper drug dispensing and provide accurate patient care.