12 Advances In Medical Robotics
January 29, 2011 06:00 AM Robots play a critical -- and growing -- role in modern medicine, from training the next generation of doctors, dentists, and nurses, to comforting and protecting elderly patients in the early stages of dementia. Using robots, medical professionals can make smaller incisions for shorter surgeries, reducing hospital stays and improving patients' prognoses and saving costs. As robots become even smaller and developers continue to further integrate the devices with artificial intelligence, the medical community will continuously expand the ways in which it uses this technology to save patients, improve quality of life and prevent health problems. At the other end of the spectrum, medical schools are turning to robots that mimic live patients' feelings of pain or discomfort to help the next wave of doctors and dentists prepare to treat real people. Of course, dummies and cadavers are not new to medical students, but by giving students access to sensitive patients, healthcare educators hope to hone the bedside manners of soon-to-be doctors and dentists.
While they are learning to clean teeth, mount crowns, or drill for fillings, dental students can chip away without causing pain using Simroid robot-based patients. Fellow students pursuing careers as physicians and surgeons also are tapping families of robots, ranging from faux pregnant women to elderly men needing knee replacements, to hone their craft on "patients" always willing and able to endure another round of surgery. Developed at theNippon Medical School, Simroid robots "feel" pain and react if touched inappropriately on the chest when a dental student reaches for an instrument.