Thursday, July 23, 2009

Paging Dr. Robot


A revolutionary robot mounted with a high-tech camera is helping physicians treat and save soldiers -- from just about any location in the world.

In three years, army docs have conducted at least 200 medical interventions from remote locations, thanks to the device.

Dr. Kevin Chung, who directs the Burn Intensive Care Unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, is one doctor who has incorporated the cutting-edge technology into the care of his patients.

He is a frequent operator of the robot and regularly uses it to treat patients, including those he cared for when he was deployed to Iraq.

When he was in Baghdad, Chung used the robot to follow up with critically injured soldiers after they had returned to hospitals in the U.S, he told CNN.

The high-tech medical assistant is controlled from afar via a laptop and remote joystick. The robot is able to move easily because sensors located on its "torso" help it identify any obstacles in its path.

The camera on the wireless robot captures images of a patient from just about every angle, and a zoom option allows doctors a close-up view of their distant patient.

Besides the benefit of allowing doctors to be in more than one place at once, the high-tech medical robot can be a confidence booster for those working in combat zones.

On using the robot to see soldiers he had treated in Baghdad when they were back in the U.S., Chung recounted: "To visually see that patient in a bed, with stable vital signs, halfway around the world -- that did wonders just to be able to see that for all the staff."

More on CNN...