Rehabilitative robots expected to make up for shortage in resources
Web Editor:International daily
Rehabilitative robots are expected to fill the broadening gap between the rapidly increasing demand in rehabilitation therapy and the limited resources facing the sector in China.
China now has nearly 250 million people aged 60 or above and more than 85 million disabled people, as well as 300 million patients with chronic diseases. The aging population, high rate of disability caused by chronic diseases and the rise in the number of disabled people in China is further ripping the gap between supply and demand in rehabilitation, with almost every rehabilitation department in every hospital already running at full capacity.
"Our hospital handles 8,000 to 10,000 outpatients every day. With such a large number of outpatients, we can only provide 100 of them with rehabilitation services and treatments. Each of our clinical departments can only pick some who are in severe conditions to provide specialized rehabilitation [treatment]," said Zhang Xintao, deputy director of the Sports and Rehabilitation Medicine Center of Peking University Shenzhen Hospital in south China's Guangdong Province.
Fortunately, with the growing innovation in robotics, rehabilitative robots are being created to fill that gap.
Shenzhen Second People's Hospital is one of the pioneer medical facilities in the country to introduce rehabilitative robots in daily treatment for clinical trial.
Mr. Sun, a patient at the hospital, had a stroke over a month ago, which deprived him of the ability to walk normally. However, thanks to the wearable lower-limb exoskeleton rehabilitative robot, he can now walk normally after training with it two times a day for over a week.
"In the traditional way of [training], if I tell him to raise his leg higher and he cannot do that, he will probably be like that [paralytic] permanently. However, now the robot would [help him raise his legs] according to the correct [data]input, and in this way, he can repeat the correct gait all the time for training, which makes the training more effective," said Xu Lanshuai, a rehabilitation therapist at the hospital.
This helpful robot is still in clinical trials and needs time for overall popularization and use, while other rehabilitative robots built to help patients with cerebral apoplexy and medical exoskeleton robots are currently at the stages of prototype design and verification.
"The robot we have in the medical institutions are quite mature. However, there are still two requests to be met before it goes into the homes of millions of people. The first is simplified operation and the second is lower price," said Wang Yulong, director of the hospital's rehabilitation center.