|Possibly the most glamorous application of robots in medicine, current state of the art couples a human surgeon with mechanisms that can perform surgery through very small incisions, greatly reducing the risk to patients. The surgeon's ability to control the mechanism is enhanced by providing force feedback to the controls, allowing the operator to have a sense of touch to help control the robot. This type of robot isn't completely independent, and is more properly called a teleoperated device, but uses much of the same technology an independant robot would employ for motion control, imaging and tactile/force feedback. The fully autonomous surgical robot that is a feature of science fiction literature and screen entertainment is unlikely to appear in the near future, and even if technically possible, would be viewed with great skepticism by patients (and their lawyers).|
|Robotic test instruments range from exotic scanners (such as computerized axial tomography: the CAT scan) to laboratory equipment that processes and analyzes samples of blood and other materials extracted from the body for diagnostic purposes. They provide consistency and accuracy, reducing the possibility of human error that can cause an inaccurate diagnosis. While not the classic industrial robot, they do employ many of the same automation techniques.|
Mechanical replacements for missing limbs and organs that can interact with the human organic system are a long-standing goal of the medical community. Research into replacement hearts, limbs, eyes, ears and other organs offers hope for the development of effective implanted devices and replacement limbs that can function for long periods of time. Robotic devices can also provide assistance to people with severe restrictions on movement, in many cases allowing them at least some capability to move around or nearby their homes.
One of the great challenges facing the designers of implantable devices is the need to avoid stimulating the normal immune system response to foreign objects, a response that can cause serious complications or disable the device. It is also necessary for the device to be able to survive in the biological environment without damaging chemical interactions with the body.
|Robots can provide exercise platforms to help restore limb function and can monitor the condition of patients undergoing rehabilitation from the effects of injuries, stroke or other brain or nerve damage.|
|Industrial robots used to manufacture drugs provide consistency and cost control in drug production and can perform many process and handling steps without the risk of contamination from human operators or exposing humans to dangerous chemicals or inadvertant drug doses.|
last updated: May 1, 2006
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