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How High-Tech Rehab Products Assist the Elderly

November 10, 2017

The world of robotics is permeating many areas of modern life. Now, the healthcare industry is adopting robotic systems to manage several processes more efficiently. Machines can now serve as hospital helpers to do everything from moving medical waste to delivering meals. We’re starting to see several more healthcare applications of robotics in the healthcare industry which can help older patients at rehabilitation centers. In fact, the latest research shows the global rehabilitation robots market is expected to grow at a steady rate of 25% through 2020.

Increasing Demand for Rehab Services Among Aging Population

Statistics also show that demand for rehabilitative services is on the rise which means there will be an ongoing need for more advanced technologies. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reports the number of seniors in the United States is expected to increase from 40 million to 80 million by 2050. This means there will be an even bigger market for healthcare services related to aging. The number of seniors who need physical therapy or rehabilitative services after a stroke, a Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis, heart problems, or other health issues may be substantial. High-tech rehab products and services will cater to this market.

Here are some ways high-tech rehab products are assisting the elderly:

Surgical Applications

Surgery performed by robots is one of the latest applications of robotics in healthcare and may, at some point, help improve surgical outcomes of elderly patients. Robotic suturing by the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) has set the stage for a breakthrough in modern surgery, proving that robots may be able to perform complex tasks better than humans. There are many ethical and legal concerns to resolve before robotic surgery can become common practice but there may be more opportunities for rehabilitation robots to assist elderly patients with recovery and strength-building needs.

Physical Therapy Applications

Robots can be employed to assist with the recovery process after surgery or to help seniors with joint problems or bone fractures. Some may even be able to perform physical therapy tasks or at least assist a physical therapist to ensure patients are achieving a state of optimal range of motion and performing movements with proper form.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation service are also going 3D with virtual reality. The Allure Group has already bought the OmniVR virtual reality technology to skilled rehabilitation and nursing facilities in New York City. This is the world’s first 3D ‘virtual rehabilitation’ system and is designed for aging adults.

The OmniVR application works by measuring the patient’s movements and capturing key data for doctors and physical therapists to review.OmniVR is especially beneficial for patients with physical limitations. It’s a fun way for elderly patients to learn how to move again as many of the activities and exercises can be set up as a game.

Telemedicine Applications

Since many seniors simply can’t travel very far to visit a doctor or are limited to staying in a chair or wheelchair most of the time, telemedicine can help patients receive a doctor’s care without leaving home. Robots may be helpful for coordinating patient intake processes and managing basic administrative tasks. The technology is already available and robots may be integrated into the process to ensure patients receive the care they need at the right time.

The market for robotic rehabilitation is expected to grow significantly within the next few years and could change the face of rehabilitation services for the elderly. Robots will not only be used to assist human care providers but also to provide insightful data and feedback that would otherwise require complex software and more administrative time. Rehab and nursing facilities in particular can make use of data-driven systems and thereby improve the overall patient experience.

Categories: New Technologies