What was once something we only saw in the movies, robotic devices have become more and more common in hospitals, operating rooms, and medical centers around the world. While many would be quick to say that robotics in medicine is fairly new, the technology was actually first used in 1985 to assist in a neurosurgical biopsy. Over the last 30 years, the technological abilities packed into these devices have certainly evolved. With over 2 million robotic procedures performed globally, the use of robotic technology in the medical field has expanded greatly from the assistive arms of 30 years ago into areas such as rehabilitation, elderly care, and communications between hospitals and medical services. Here are some of the newest advancements in robotic technology that you may see at your local hospital during your next visit.
While not a necessarily new technology, the daVinci system, developed by Intuitive Surgical, has become a leader in surgical-assist robotics. Procedures performed with the daVinci can utilize a very small incision to perform the procedure, which can result in faster healing time and less post-op pain. A new technology that daVinci has developed more recently is “Endo-wrist.” With this device, surgeons are able to sit at a station right next to the operating table and, while wearing special glove-like devices that replicate the skilled movements of surgeon’s hands without the shake and tremble that the human hands experience, especially during lengthy procedures.
A much different approach to treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System utilizes a continual image guidance technology system to automatically detect and correct tumor movement and growth. Once a tumor is located, the CyberKnife system delivers a highly-concentrated radiation dose to the precise area where the tumor is located. This technology has helped to reduce damage to surrounding tissues, thus lowering recovery times and costs for the patient. Accuray, the developer of CyberKnife, says typical treatments require five or fewer visits and no hospital stays.
No, this isn’t a cousin of C-3PO. The RP-7 robot offers a remote presence for telehealth. The device has a monitor, as well as multiple cameras and microphones, all of which is mounted on a remotely controlled moveable base. The medical staff who is using the device is then able to “make the rounds” through a hospital, speaking with individual patients through the device. Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pennsylvania, has implemented the RP-7 across many rural hospitals in their systems where doctors are not readily available, as well as utilizing the robot in 14 prisons across the state to supplement the cardiology services that are provided.
Certain injuries or medical conditions can severely affect mobility, to the point where the patient is unable to walk any longer. While there have been rehabilitation programs in place for these type of injuries for years, called intensive gait rehabilitation, the introduction of the Lokomat, developed by Sensory Motor Systems Lab, has given physical therapists and their patients a way to see results faster and perform therapy sessions more frequently and for longer durations. The device is able to adapt its movements to the patient’s individual capabilities, and will react to hip and pelvis movements. Therapists and patients report that walking actually improves from its original form, due to the robot’s proper mechanics and posture training while patients utilize the device on a treadmill.
While not directly patient facing, the IntelliFill robotic IV preparation system may be one of the biggest advancements for hospitals to happen in years. The Intellifill system works with a system of bar code scanning, vision systems, and weight confirmation steps to automatically prepare medication that is to be administered intravenously. Not only is the system accurate, but it’s also cost saving, since it prepares all medications in a syringe instead of utilizing a costly IV bag.
As hospitals and medical centers continue to follow the technological trend and implement robotic systems, it’s vital that the proper knowledge and support systems are in place so that the technology is utilized in the most efficient and cost-effective way. Cava Robotics provides a full scope of consulting services to hospitals and medical staff around the nation on every step of robotics in healthcare, from initial procurement of the systems, to customized training programs, to fiscal targeting. Understanding how a robotic system can benefit not only patients, but also all those working within the system, creates an environment where all parties benefit from the technology.