Are bots the future of physical therapy?
During the last decade AI and robotics have developed at an incredibly fast pace. From chatbots to delivery drones, from self-driving cars to voice-recognition systems and from AI assistants to smart homes the technological advances of the last few years has had an impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives.
Medicine is obviously one of the fields in which these technological breakthroughs have been more impactful. Both artificial intelligence and robotics have allowed great improvements in patient care and treatment and one of the areas that could capitalize better these technological tools and resources is physical therapy.
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Patients with neurological disorders might see greater benefits from treatments that combine therapy from robots and human therapists, given that robots are better at reducing physical impairments whilst their human counterparts are more successful at turning the gains in impairment into function.
Every year in the US, almost 800,000 suffer from a stroke and many of them suffer from permanent disabilities that require physical therapy and specialized patient care in order to recover their mobility, at least partially.
People who have suffered from a stroke are commonly affected by permanent consequences of the incident that usually reflect on their movement capabilities, amongst several other neurological implications. Although today most of the therapies that help these people improve their condition depend on a physical therapist teaching them step by step how to regain their muscle balance and strength through different exercises, integrating technology to this process may dramatically improve the results and increase the progress.
As artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic technologies continue to evolve; robotic therapy solutions are becoming more prevalent. Whilst the human factor remains unmatched when it comes to therapy and overall patient care, machines have the capabilities to notice measure and optimize various processes that have a direct impact on the effectivity of the treatment and its results. The precision a machine brings to the therapy allows it measure and adjust the therapy to the level of progress the patient displays, even if the human therapist is unable to notice it due to how subtle this progress may be.
Further, artificial intelligence and machine learning can make therapy a lot more intuitive that it is now. Based on how accurate, precise and sensitive this technologies can be, almost if not all processes can be optimized in order to adjust more effectively to each patient needs increasing their chances of recovery.