In the last few years, AI and robotics have surpassed the milestones that were once considered impossible. Today, it’s possible to detect tumors using robots in hospitals. Robots are even working with humans in various industries (e.g., nursing homes). And some people are even trying a new type of surgery via robot. Now imagine if we could combine that technology with spinal cord injuries and help victims recover from their injuries faster.
Recently a team of researchers at the University of California Irvine. They successfully fused an AI system and robotic health tools for paralyzed patients recovering from spinal cord injuries (SCIs). In the Science Translational Medicine journal, their findings were published. This past week showed promising evidence for this innovative approach to SCI recovery.
AI and Robotics in daily life
In the past few years, we’ve witnessed an explosion of AI and robotics being used in our daily lives. In China, there are robots working with real human doctors in hospitals to diagnose patients faster. At the University of California San Diego, students designed a robot to help elderly people with senile dementia. In Japan, a company has developed a robot that can translate sign language for deaf people. So in terms of the work field, it’s evident that AI and robotics have already made their mark.
The Science Translational Medicine journal was designed to review medical research. Between scientific discovery and its implementation as a medical tool or treatment.
Combining AI and Robotics
The University of California Irvine used high-tech computers. To fuse AI and robotics in order to help patients better recover from their injuries. Here’s how it works: a patient wears a cap with electrodes. That detect brain waves, spinal cord signals, muscle activity, and body temperature. All of this data is transmitted to an AI system that analyzes the information. And then communicates with a nearby robotic exoskeleton.
This combination of AI and robotics have already been proven effective. By helping paralyzed people regain their ability to walk again (see it here). In addition, this system could be even more effective than traditional methods. Because it also monitors factors like muscle activity, body temperature, and brain waves.
Although the work performed by the team of researchers was successful, there are still limitations in their system. In order to improve their treatment, they need to develop a system that can detect situations. When a patient experiences a massive influx of electrical signals following an injury. In addition, they need to find ways of improving this fusion AI and robotics system.
They also plan to go beyond SCI recovery. Use it as a tool for other types of injuries as well (e.g., oncology patients with lung cancer). Lastly, they think their new fusion system could potentially even be used with pregnant women. Who are experiencing depression (i.e., mood disorders) while undergoing prenatal care.
Research for treating injuries
The fusion AI and robotic system used in this treatment have been around since 2011. When the University of California Irvine was first testing it on mice with SCI. The researchers in this study wanted to know if they could detect brain signals.
Since then, the system has improved significantly. They were able to test it on monkeys and paraplegics who were once wheelchair-bound after their injuries.
For human use, this technology is still under development. The researchers also plan to improve their fusion system by incorporating even more powerful computers. As well as remove the limitations of the current system.
In general, the longer an injury goes untreated, the less likely it is that it will recover. While there are many factors involved in recovery (e.g., age at injury and level of injuries). It’s evident that some types of injuries are harder to recover from than others due to size and severity.
AI and Robotics helpful to human
AI and robotics are already helpful to people in various industries. The fusion AI and robotics system used to help SCI recovery will probably be beneficial to human health. Because it can detect various rehabilitation stages. That someone with a spinal injury has gone through so far based on brain activity.
In addition, this system could improve the treatment for other diseases (e.g., cancer) in the future, too. As long as we continue to keep up with developing new technologies such as AI and robotics. We’re going to see more amazing health breakthroughs in the future that will make everyone’s lives easier.
You’ve probably noticed how AI and robotics are already helpful to people in various industries. For example, robots are working with doctors in hospitals to help diagnose patients faster. The use of AI and robotics are also helping people regain their mobility after being paralyzed by SCIs.
This study showed some promising results for a fusion AI and robotic system. That it can potentially recover SCI quicker than the traditional methods. It’s evident that the technology will be helpful for a lot of people. Which means these advancements are eventually commercialized and we need to make sure that. In order for everyone to benefit from them.