Medicine has always relied on advancements in science and technology to provide better treatment for patients. Researchers have noted a steady rate regarding applications for new drugs, especially for biological illnesses and cancer, over the last 20 years. Aside from progress in medical knowledge and drugs, there have also been great advances in prosthetics and healthcare technology.
Scientists have developed new ways to detect anomalies, check on the well-being of patients and administer medical procedures. Science and technology have always been intertwined with great healthcare and the industry is now incorporating another facet: robotics.
Here are just a few ways medicine has made use of advanced machinery and technology.
1. Sensory Prosthetics
According to some statistics, there are almost 2 million Americans who are living with a loss of limb in the country, although the actual number may be higher. Modern technology has advanced enough that they can interact with the world around them easily thanks to prosthetic devices. However, not all prosthetics are for lost limbs. Some are for replacing or augmenting sensory organs such as eyes.
Sensory prosthetics are some of the most valuable applications for robotic vision outside of manufacturing facilities. This technology allows people with impaired vision to see the world and, in some cases, let people with lost limbs feel tactile sensations again.
Computer systems and similar technologies have also enhanced the precision of these prostheses, offering better control to amputees and similarly disabled adults.
2. Advanced Sensors
Half the battle, when it comes to fighting diseases, is won with better diagnostics. If the signs and symptoms of a disease are noticed immediately, doctors will have an easier time providing adequate treatment and saving the lives of patients. Modern sensors have advanced well beyond the first X-rays to include such machines as magnetic resonance imagery and radiography.
Now, medical technology includes such sensory machinery as micro-endoscopy robots. Endoscopy usually involves inserting a small camera on a wire into a natural opening to detect problems. However, micro-endoscopy robots are just tiny cameras in capsule that a patient can swallow, removing some discomfort. These new cameras are also more powerful than older models, providing better imaging and higher resolution for analysis.
Other forms of advanced sensors that could theoretically be developed could use nanotechnology to provide readouts at a cellular or even subcellular level.
3. Artificial Organs
Organ damage is sadly a very real consequence of several diseases as well as the result of catastrophic injuries. Although some organ damage can be repairable after considerable surgery or rehabilitation, those who survive still risk the effects of compromised systems.
Medical scientists have now begun to work on groundbreaking technology to create artificial organs. People have grown skin cells to help bur victims regenerate their own, but the possibilities being explored can go further than that. There have been cases of scientist creating artificial blood vessels as well as a fully functional artificial pancreas. In the future, new technology can ease the burden on organ transplants.
4. Telehealth Services
The lockdowns and social isolation protocols necessitated by the pandemic has highlighted the importance of establishing long-distance methods for providing patients with adequate healthcare. Such advances allow medical professionals to cater to the needs of their patients without inundated already crowded hospitals or exposing people needlessly to contagion.
Teleconferencing software such as Skype and Zoom have proven invaluable in diagnosing and advising people at home. However, new technology has taken things one step forward. Surrogate healthcare providers are machines that resemble tablets with mobility aids. These robots let medical professionals assess patients who may not have their own laptops or similar devices.
5. Clinical Training Devices
Healthcare is only as good as healthcare providers, meaning that it requires excellent training for its practitioners. Although gone are the days when medical schools needed to result to grave-robbing for anatomical training, there is still a grave need for better training devices. Robotics and technology have the means to offer such advanced training.
Surgeons today still mostly practice on cadavers or have to hone their skills on the job. Advanced clinical training devices can simulate all the intricacies of the human body. Life-sized robots with fake organs can simulate realistic bodily reactions to provide surgeons with additional training without needing a lot of fresh bodies.
Medicine is always looking for advances, incorporating various branches of science and technology to get the job done. Robotics is simply one more facet of science that healthcare professionals and researchers are exploring to provide patients with the best care possible. Who knows what sort of treatments and diagnostic procedures can be available in the future, thanks to the tireless work of scientists?