Medical robots are built to work in tandem with doctors and provide support during surgery. In spite of the high level of automation in CAD/CAM systems, the primary objective of medical robots is to exhibit innovative functional tools that boost the performance of surgeons. There is an increasing range of applications for medical robots in health care, including the replacement of missing limbs, stroke neuro-rehabilitation treatment, educating learning-disabled individuals, and providing medications, to name just a few. For example, intelligent and autonomous mechatronic surgical instruments, such as robotic hand-held surgical tools, have been developed for use in the operating room. Managing motions and limiting involvement with the operating field are two ways these technologies can help surgeons. Moreover, even outside of the hospital environment, wearable robotic systems like the ReWalk exoskeleton help paralyzed individuals regain their independence in their own homes.

Classification of medical robots

It is essential to understand biological processes in order to engineer medical robots, which must be more precise than conventional robots and must include sensors that ensure their safety. Medical robots may be divided into two primary categories: those that aid doctors and surgeons, and those that help patients with medical issues. Robotic surgery, exploration, diagnosis and treatment are all included in this category. Assisted-living technologies form a second class that includes both personal independence-enhancing robotic devices for the disabled and elderly, and robotic treatment tools for those temporarily suffering from motor impairments brought on by stroke or spinal cord illness. Further examples of assisted-living technologies include artificial limbs, prosthetic devices, exoskeletons and robot personal assistants.

[See also: The post-COVID-19 hospital: Part 1]

Standard specifications for medical robots

All medical robots must meet the following common requirements:

  • Quality: they must provide accuracy and consistency for surgical operations with exact geometric precision for improving diagnostic confirmations and therapy.
  • Security: robotic operations must be safe for patients and healthcare providers alike.
  • Remote management capabilities: they shall permit deployment in disaster zones and remote locations.
  • Lower overall health care cost: while the initial investment in a medical robot may be significant, the extra benefits, such as improved efficiency, shorter healing times and reduced hospital stays shall result in a lower total cost of care.
  • Improved document accessibility: they must be able to record more specific information about each user's access to performance documentation in order to contribute to future development.
  • Free-living: patients with disabilities can live more independently with the help of robot systems.
  • Provide access to inaccessible body parts: medical robots shall make it possible to perform surgeries within the body that would otherwise need large incisions on the patient.
  • Assist the elderly: supporting an aging population will necessitate more medical and social services in the future.
  • Enable interaction with others: disabled patients can benefit from robot systems that can assist them to improve their movement and communication.
  • Non-invasive treatment: medical robots shall enter the body through the skin, a cavity or an anatomical entrance with minimal potential harm.
  • Solve the monetary issues: robotics innovation is needed to keep healthcare expenditure growth in the near future when the number of medical practitioners will be outnumbered by the number of the elderly.
  • Performance: there must be a significant improvement in the efficiency of robot medical operations as compared to the current standard of care.

Benefits of medical robots

The acceptance and widespread usage of medical robots will be based on their ability to provide quantifiable and complementing capabilities compared to those of humans, regardless of their high cost or inherent limits in haptic sense or judgment in complicated circumstances. Through breakthroughs in diagnostics, pre-operative planning, post-operative assessment, surgery, acute rehabilitation, and long-term assistive equipment, robotic technology is progressively influencing the whole healthcare industry. In particular, medical robots have shown their worth by:

  • making current treatments more precise, quicker, or less intrusive, and improving the technical abilities of doctors who are prone to sluggishness, weariness, tremor and distraction.
  • allowing people to execute treatments that might otherwise be impossible in risky situations.
  • improving the performance of complex procedures in unsafe proximity to sensitive anatomical structures utilizing online monitoring and information assistance for surgical operations to advance surgical safety.
  • capturing and analyzing data for surgeons' training, competence assessment and certification.
  • maintaining a healthy immune system.
  • being unaffected by radioactive contamination
  • integration of a variety of sensors (acoustic, force).

[Browse manufacturers and suppliers of medical robots on GlobalSpec.com.]

Conclusion

Health care and everyday life are both benefiting from the rise of medical robots. The goal of medical robots is to enhance life expectancy while minimizing damage imposed by medical procedures. They provide several benefits over traditional manual devices in the healthcare industry and can be programmed to perform a range of functions. Their versatility and cost-effectiveness make them a prime option for many hospitals. In addition, these systems can increase the precision and skills of physicians.

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@globalspec.com