Why Nursing is a Dangerous Job and How Robots Can Help

According to a Forbes.com article, nursing aides have one the most dangerous jobs in America (most likely to get an injury or illness at work).  Many nurses injur their backs while lifting and moving patients.  Unfortunately, nurses do not have many options to move patients around more ergonomically.

The two occupations with the greatest number of such injuries and illnesses were truck drivers and nursing aides (including orderlies and attendants).

Sprains and strains were the leading nature of injury or illness in every major industry division in 2002, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 79,000 injured nursing aides suffered sprains and strains to their trunks (typically their backs), due to overexertion related to lifting or moving patients.

Perhaps that is why in selecting their inventions of the year for 2006, Time Magazine saw such promise in the Ri-Man.

Someday, robots could replace humans as nurse’s aides, but first they will need a little sensitivity training. Japan’s Ri-Man is headed in the right direction. With sensors that enable it to see, smell and hear its environment, it also has some 320 pressure points on its arms and chest that allow it to sense the exact position of whatever it’s holding. The bot can lift 80 lbs. today, but researchers hope to strengthen the motors in Ri-Man’s arms without increasing their size, so they still resemble those of a man, not a monster.