Technological Advances in Healthcare – Robotics

by Bhargav Mehta

Posted on November 23, 2018 at 05:00 PM

In this series of blogs, we are evaluating the impact of technological advancements in our healthcare systems that will change our perception towards it for better.

If you have not gone through the first and second part yet, here is the link:

In both the previous article we looked into the primary actors that are leading this revolution, namely Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). These technologies are helping our healthcare systems to be more proactive and vigilant.

Today we will look into another technology that is revolutionizing the industry and has the potential to do a lot more - Robotics. The Robotics technology is helping doctors and patients immensely in the process of treatment and post-operative care.

This technology empowers the doctors by providing the tools with the abilities of absolute precision and better reachability. And also enables the patients for a quick recovery and to lead a normal life even after encountering serious injuries and disabilities.

In this blog, we will see two main implementations of robotics in mainstream healthcare.

Minimally Invasive Surgeries

With the help of technology, we have made great advances in how complex surgeries are performed. From complete operation performed with robotics to using camera scopes for a simple assist, this technology has improved the entire surgical procedure by providing a very high level of precision while reducing the footprint of incisions needed.

Technological Advances in Healthcare – Robotics

Advanced robotic systems created for medical surgeries, give doctors greater control and a better vision during the surgery. This allows them to perform safe, less invasive, and precise surgical procedures. During a robotic surgery, surgeons operate from a console equipped with two master controllers and a 3-D display module.

The controllers help the doctor maneuver the four robotic arms, the actual operation procedure to be performed on the patient is done through these robotic arms. The 3-D display console helps the doctor see the complete internal composition better than ever before which helps them in accurate targeting.

The software on these systems makes the entire process very streamlined by automating things such as incisions, penetrations etc. This helps in avoiding any issues that can arise due to manual errors. The software also acts as a bridge to maneuvering the arms and can help in making very precise movements.

The robotic surgeries propose significant benefits over the manual surgeries. Some of these benefits are

  • Small incisions

  • Less pain

  • Low risk of infection

  • Shorter hospital stays

  • Quick recovery time

  • Less scarring

  • Reduced blood loss

However not all minimally invasive procedures are completed with robotics and not all medical cases are right for robotic-assisted surgery.

Doctors also use and endoscopic surgery techniques. These are minimally invasive procedures that utilize an endoscope to reach internal organs through very small incisions.

During endoscopic surgery, the surgeon inserts a thin, flexible tube with a video camera through a small incision or a natural orifice like the mouth or nostrils. The tube has a channel to utilize tiny surgical instruments, which the surgeon uses while viewing the organs on a computer monitor.

This technique allows the surgeon to see inside the patient’s body and operate through a much smaller incision than would otherwise be required of traditional open surgery.

Active Bionic Prosthetics

Active bionic prosthetics are the application of artificial organs (especially limbs) that can mimic most of the functions of the part it is trying to replicate.

Technological Advances in Healthcare-Robotics

Prosthetics are basically an artificial device that replaces a body part that might have been lost through amputation. Prosthetics are intended to restore the normal functions of the missing body parts.

In the bionic prosthetics, robotics is used to create a limb that can perform different tasks instead of the traditional wooden prosthetics. These bionic limbs such as arms have robotics components that enable the movements of individual components such as fingers, wrist etc.

The way the neural or bionic prosthetics currently work is by controlling a prosthetic limb by listening to the muscles remaining in the residual limb that the patient can still contract. These muscles generate small electrical signals when they contract, so electrodes placed on the surface of the skin can measure muscle movements.

Although no buttons are manually pressed by the muscles in this case, their contractions are detected by the electrodes and then used to control the prosthetic limb. Prosthetic limbs that function in this way are also called myoelectric.

These prosthetics enable the people to work and perform all the tasks effectively and help them in leading a very normal and self-sufficient life. There are people with these bionic prosthetics that play music, are into sports, travel the world etc.

Currently, the technology is advancing into next steps which include introducing the sensors in the prosthetics that can also give the sense of touch; and the control of limbs directly through the mind.

With the help of the bionic prosthetics and robotics, the horizons for differently abled are expanded and the vast array of possibilities have opened up.

These implementations of robotics just gave us a glance at the potential this technology in assisting and empowering the doctors as well as helping the patients in rehabilitation and post-operative care.