Evaluate some of the ways in which robots could improve the quality of life for people with disabilities or health issues.
In today’s society, it has become more and more important to pay attention to the physical and mental health of the disabled. As development of technology, people had already start trying getting the robot involved treatment which since the middle of the 20th century already has some significant effect. (C. Ray, F. Mondada and R. siegwar 2008)
This essay will talk about classification of persons with disabilities, development of robots and how robots improve life quality of disabled such as creating job opportunities, participate in project construction.
Firstly, it will talk about the daily life of physical disabled, second section is daily life of mental disabled and the last section will talk about advantages and disadvantages of different disabled people assisted by different types of robots According to Won Hyuk Chang, Yun-Hee Kim. (2013), which includes therapeutic and assistive robots.
This essay will argue that the governments and people should take a positive attitude towards the combination of medical treatment and science and technology which may bring brand new topic for both medical and scientific community.
One of the common types of disabled people is physical disabled persons and physical disabilities can affect a person’s ability to move about, to use arms and legs effectively, to swallow food, and to breathe unaided (Black and Pretes, 2007; Hardman et al., 1999).
Some of them can recover slowly through treatment, but the recovery process is extraordinary long and boring and depends on the help of doctors and nurses. Some of them will choose to go to the rehabilitation centre for collective treatment.
The centre has a special car to pick up and send students to the centre for health training every day. In addition to the morning exercise and free activity time every day, the centre will also guide students to carry out skill training, improve their hands-on ability and care for their physical and mental health.
which may cost a lot of energy, time and money for a whole family when science and technology were underdeveloped. At present, With the rapid development of science and technology, A new type of robot called Rehabilitation robots which can be divided into therapeutic and assistive robots is gradually popularised in the treatment of disabled people.
According to Journal of Stroke (2013), the treatment process of the physical disabled needs high-intensity and constant repetition of the same actions to achieve the treatment purpose, and in recent years, robot technology has developed significantly, with faster and more powerful computers, new computing methods and more complex electro-mechanical components.
Advances in this technology have made robotics available for rehabilitation interventions. Robot is defined as a kind of reprogrammable multi-functional manipulator, which is designed to accomplish tasks by moving materials, parts or special equipment through variable programming.
The most important advantage of using robot technology in rehabilitation intervention is that it can provide high-dose and high-intensity training. This feature makes robot therapy a promising new technology for rehabilitation of patients with motor disorders caused by stroke or spinal cord disease.
In the past two decades, the research of rehabilitation robots has developed rapidly, and the number of therapeutic rehabilitation robots has increased dramatically. Take an example of stroke patients, Neural plasticity is the basic mechanism of functional improvement after stroke.
Therefore, an important goal of rehabilitation for stroke patients is to effectively utilise neural plasticity for functional recovery. Other principles of stroke rehabilitation include goal setting, high-intensity training, multidisciplinary team nursing and task-specific training.
Therefore, high-dose intensive training and repetitive training of specific functional tasks are very important for rehabilitation after stroke. These requirements make stroke rehabilitation a labour-intensive process which just in line with the characteristics of robot therapy.
Another kind of special is mental disabled persons and a mental health condition is considered a disability if it has a long-term effect on people’s normal day-to-day activity. This is defined under the Equality Act 2010.
One kind of the most common mental disability is depression which seems a uniquely human way of suffering and according to BBC news, Worldwide, over 350 million people have depression, and rates are climbing which is obvious that the governments and people must pay much attention on it.
If there is no underlying medical cause for your symptoms of depression, talk therapy can be an extremely effective treatment and learn to communicate with others. Depression can also be improved by communicating with others. Because in the process of communication, it can release pressure and pour out personal emotions, which is helpful for the elimination of depression.
In general, in the process of communicating with others, problems can be solved, so as to prevent the long-term falling into bad mood from threatening health. However, in some special cases, patients may refuse to communicate with others, which is a kind of protection for them.
According to Piesing, M. (2014), Therapeutic robot is one of the earliest chat robots in the world. In real life, most people with mental illness are reluctant to see a psychiatrist.
Some of the reasons are that they don’t admit that they suffer from mental illness, or they lack trust in the effect of psychotherapy, and most of them worry that their personal privacy can’t be guaranteed. Now, with the advent of robotic psychiatrists, that’s starting to change.
According to Alice Cai (2016) In 1964, Jerome Weizenbaum, a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of technology, established a treatment robot project called Eliza, which aims to imitate the method of Rogerian psychotherapy, that is, therapists encourage patients to examine their own thoughts and feelings.
The program also introduces other psychotherapy and electronic means so that robots can get information about patients and put answers into images. It is because of the use of these knowledge and means that the “spiritual tutor” does not simply search the database for every question asked by each patient.
Instead, it strives to find the best solution through special psychological steps: it can even put forward complex problems to patients that they are not aware of, and analyse their feelings and ideas.
For example, it will show patients some images to help them find the deep causes of their own problems, and point out the right direction for them. The work is usually done in an hour. However, many people who talk to Eliza can’t tell if she is a machine program or a human psychotherapist, and are increasingly dependent on her.
Although many psychologists have doubts that an interactive dialogue with robot psychologists can really solve a patient’s physical and mental problems? But the answer given by the designer is yes. They say that just one therapeutic conversation produces a 47% satisfaction rate that no psychologist can achieve.
The reason why the satisfaction rate is so high is that the “spiritual tutor” does not answer questions by searching the “answer list”, but gradually guides patients to find their own answers. Psychological research has proved that the solutions you find are more effective than others’ suggestions. Therefore, it is the most effective way to help patients find solutions.
According to reports, “spiritual tutor” can successfully solve psychological problems such as emotional tension, family conflicts, loss of motivation, doubt of life, insomnia, and disharmony with others. However, there is no way to deal with serious mental diseases such as schizophrenia, manic depression and drug addiction, which need to be further explored.
One of the main arguments used to support that people disagree with robot participation in disability treatment is that robots do not have own mind which may due to they lose control during treat process and disabled people cannot mobility difficulties or other difficulties.
However, while this may be true in a minority, it is clear that people can act as supervisors which also saves human resources and energy and as the development of technology, the chance of this happening is basically negligible.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that the scientific community and the medical community have a great common innovation and challenges interest in involving robots in the treatment of disabled people.
If this technology is popularised in the daily medical treatment, it will have a great impact on the disabled and their families, and most of them will have a positive impact. It may also enable the disabled to regain their enthusiasm for life and their expectations for the future. This is a great progress for society and human rights.
Won Hyuk Chang, Yun-Hee Kim. (2013). Robot-assisted Therapy in Stroke Rehabilitation. Journal of Stroke. 7 (3), p174-181.
Alice Cai. (2016). Relations between Humans and Robots. Available: https://confluence.gallatin.nyu.edu/sections/research/eliza-re-examined. Last accessed 29th Feb 2020.
Piesing, M. (2014) Medical robotics: Would you trust a robot with a scalpel?
Guardian [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/oct/10/medical-robots-surgery-trustfuture
Carnevale, A. (2015) ‘Robots, Disability, and good human life’ Disability Studies
Quarterly Vol 35, No 1[Online] Available at: Carnevalehttp://dsqsds.org/article/view/4604/3826