Role of robotics in trauma and orthopaedics

September 4, 2019

The field of robotics is at a juncture where soon it will cause a major change in the way we live. New discoveries are made every day that are slowly pushing us towards a future where life without robots will become impossible. This rise of automation and replacing the working class with technology is not a new concept. It is as old as when the technology first entered the human’s life.

Today, even in an advanced field like medical sciences, robotics has started making major contributions. Seeing autonomous robots working as a regular employee of the hospital and performing duties like scanning for vital signs, checking the pulse, reading medical history or even performing surgery, is now not just a pipedream. Robots controlled by doctors have already become common in the medical field. Here, we will discuss how robotics have started to incorporate in the medical field:

  1. Robotics in Treatment of Trauma

Today, social robots have become common. Some of these robots are being used for helping people in need of a therapist. It is termed as robotherapy. These robots help children and adults alike with their physical, social, and cognitive problems. They also make up for the shortage of trained support workers and stay with the patients 24 hours a day. This works great for old people suffering from dementia. Studies have shown that for people who don’t have the help they need, social robots can help improve the quality of their life.

For example, it is very common for soldiers to go through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD. More often than not, due to the stigma around mental health issues, they refuse to seek help or even admit to symptoms. Leaving PTSD untreated, can lead to severe consequences like having disturbing feelings, dreams, and thoughts and becoming suicidal. So, it is important to get some help.

However, sometimes patients can feel exposed and unsafe with a human therapist. However, with anonymous surveys, they are not able to build a rapport. This is where a Robot interviewer comes into play. They provide a feeling of safety and anonymity and have the skills of a real human interviewer. They can help the soldiers deal with their trauma. These technologies can help provide a safe environment for a soldier to express their feelings and help them deal with their PTSD.

With the growing demand of enough therapists, we are likely to see more robots in treatment settings. However, it may not completely replace humans, robot-enhanced therapy is already yielding results.

  1. Robotics in Orthopedics

Computer-assisted surgery has become more common today. In this, robots are used to improve the precision and quality of the procedure in a standardized fashion. When it comes to orthopedic surgery, robots are used to perform the tasks that exceed the manual capabilities of a surgeon like preparing the bony surfaces with high precision. They are capable of making contact with the bone or the prosthesis interface providing improved stability. The first use of robots in surgery was seen in total hip replacement where they were used for femoral preparation. In later years, they found their use in knee arthroplasty as well.

When it comes to knee or hip replacement surgery, robot-assisted orthopedic surgery has become quite popular. During the surgery, the damaged cartilage and bone are cut off from the body and replaced with artificial components made of polymers, high-grade plastics, or metal alloys.

There are different ways in which robotics can be used in orthopedic surgery. First, a Computerized Tomography or CT scan is performed to figure out exactly how much bone needs to be removed. This helps in making sure that aligning and placing the process of the implant is accurate. The robotic arm is used during the procedure to ensure that only the required bone is removed.

During the surgery, one of the most difficult tasks is to place the components of the artificial joint correctly so that they mesh together to work smoothly. The surgeon uses the robotic arm to get the desired orientation. The arm provides visual, auditory, and tactical assistance to the surgeon that enhances the mobility and stability of the joint replacement.

Further innovations in robotics will increase its usage in the medical field. However, we still need better and thorough scientific evaluation with these new technologies to ensure better communication of the medical results.