Robots improve medical therapies

Features - Robotics

From rehab to surgery, robots are improving the lives of patients and doctors.

August 26, 2019


Robots are making their impact on the medical industry, and even more benefits could be on the way. The global medical robots market is expected to grow at 21% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), until reaching a projected value of $24.6 billion by 2025. Here’s a closer look at how robots are improving the lives of patients and doctors.


About 1 in 10 U.S. adults suffer from arthritic knees. Despite the frequency with which knee operations are performed, measures taken to alleviate knee pain and increase mobility often leave much to be desired. One-third of patients who undergo knee replacement are unhappy with the results, leading a growing number of medical professions to consider robotics.

Rather than estimating how much of the bone should be removed during surgery, medical professionals can rely on precise image guidance provided by a robotic device. This feedback can also ease some of the difficulties associated with the insertion of artificial joints.

Robotic improvements could reduce trauma during surgery and speed up recovery. Instead of spending months or years rehabilitating or experiencing unforeseen setbacks, knee surgery patients could get back on their feet faster.


Staying active is challenging for patients on bed rest. Traditionally, they relied on therapists to stimulate muscle movement. With robots, however, rehabilitation may be less stressful for physical therapists and patients.

Therapy devices that attach to a patient’s arms or legs can initiate physical activity in various locations. Instead of transferring patients to a different facility, physical therapists can use a robot to enhance blood flow, reduce joint stiffness, and limit the chances of blood clots from lying in bed.

Robots can also give patients greater insight into how their rehabilitation is progressing. During regular exercises – such as pushing or pulling against a robotic arm – a device can track the force generated by a patient or measure a patient’s range of motion throughout rehab.

This insight can encourage patients who may face a long road to recovery. Rather than focusing on the length of their stay, patients can take pride in making new strides during each therapy session.

Facial reconstruction

Lasers can cut through soft tissue, but bones present a challenge for medical professionals. Unable to make cuts without the risk of carbonization, surgeons have opted for hand saws that allow bone regrowth. However, the opportunity for improved healing is accompanied by intense trauma throughout surgery.

Switzerland’s Advanced Osteotomy Tools (AOT) has helped pioneer robotic bone surgery by replacing outdated surgical techniques with state-of-the-art devices.

To limit patient suffering, medical organizations are adopting robotic devices that use cold laser photoablation to precisely cut through bones. Unlike soft-tissue lasers, cold laser photoablation does not threaten carbonization. As a result, robots can achieve precise cuts that heal quickly.

Proton therapy

Patients must reposition themselves to receive proton therapy treatment. A fixed beam – used to treat various cancers – is typically delivered through a stationary nozzle. Patients undergoing proton therapy face the challenge of finding the perfect position to maximize potential benefits.

Robots can assist bedridden patients or those who have trouble getting into an optimal position. By freely moving patients, a robotic patient positioner can ensure patients receive necessary treatment regardless of their physical condition.

Instead of patients struggling to appropriately position their bodies, robots can initiate any necessary adjustments. Given the frequency at which some patients may need to receive proton therapy, a robotic patient positioner can play a significant role in reducing physical strain. This relief is especially beneficial for patients who are older or hampered by a physical ailment.

The road ahead

From automotive to construction, robots have made an impact on virtually every industry, and medical is no exception. Innovation in robots along with up-and-coming robotic technology will continue to advance and enhance the medical industry and its ability to deliver superior patient care.

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About the author: Corey Ryan is the manager, medical robotics at KUKA. He is responsible for market development activities for KUKA’s medical robotics business and can be reached at