As our society becomes increasingly aware of the need to support therapy, mental health and wellness, I see great opportunities for advancements in design and technology within medical fields.
Experiences for exposure therapy which provide for a controlled environment in which people can face their fears (like fear of flying) or practice coping strategie already exist and are seeing success. I anticipate expansions on current AR therapies such as those for Phantom Limb Pain (PLP), toward helping people adjust to extreme changes in their physical condition. The use of AR/VR as therapy will also improve the quality of life of people with limited means of mobility, giving them access to broader experiences when they'd otherwise be confined. In the near future we could expect these uses of AR/VR to become as accessible as a local yoga studio or wellness room.
Rehabilitation with Robotics
The demand for rehabilitation services is growing as the population of senior citizens increases. According to the World Health Organization, the number of senior citizens at least 65 years of age will increase in number by 88% in the coming years. There is both a need and an opportunity to deploy technologies such as robotics to assist recovery from injuries or after a stroke. Research has found that by actively engaging stroke patients in repetitive tasks, the brain is able to rewire neurological pathways to motor functions to relearn movement. Functional recovery can continue years after the brain injury. By integrating these therapies with a person’s everyday life, they become more accessible and easier to continue.
Pain & Drug Management
Since 2002, what appear to be garden-variety medication carts travel the halls at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, delivering medications to 3 critical-care units. The self-powered carts can move along the halls alone; they can call elevators and board them all by themselves. When they arrive at their destinations, they announce themselves and then allow only authorized personnel access to the medications they are delivering.
The use of this robots technology could be incredibly useful as part of a futuristic at-home medical cabinet. It could help manage supplies of standard medications such as allergy pills or OTC cold medications. For prescription medications, household members could receive notifications to take their medication from the unit or a portable companion dispensing device. The units could track if you’ve already taken a dose or allow you to easily contact your medical care team.