How AI is Changing the Way We Treat Diseases and Disabilities – Forbes

Posted: November 28, 2019 at 3:42 am

The age of artificial intelligence is allowing us to rethink the way that we treat diseases and disabilities. The combination of AI and Big Data, in addition to helping with medical diagnosis, coupled with biological delivery systems, such asgene therapy delivery systemcan significantly alter the way we treat a host of diseases that are, according to modern science, incurable: cancer, autism, some mental illnesses, and rare genetic illnesses. Specifically, combining AI, big data, robotics, gene therapy, and medical research has unleashed a host of possibilities to cure these types of diseases. At the same time, the combined innovation efforts are helping people with disabilities live their lives better.

Heres an overview of some of these advances as we move into the new year.

For years, cancer treatment has been at the forefront of medical research. There have been different attempts to address the various types of the disease. However, with AI and the promise of a gene-editing tool such asthe CRISPR/Cas9, researchers finally have a way to convert cancer cells into non-cancerous cells by deleting genes and re-engineer the cells. The application of this procedure is particularly useful in certain types of blood cancers, where the proliferation of the cancerous cells can spread rapidly.A recent study sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, the Parker Institute of Cancer Immunotherapy and Tmunity Therapeutics, received promising results trying this new procedure on patients in a clinical trial.Although the results are pending and the path forward is complex, this form of cancer treatment may finally point to a cure.

Autism is a developmental spectrum disorder that affects an increasing number of children in the world. It is a debilitating disorder that inhibits normal child development in children who are on the Autism Spectrum. Currently, theres no cure. The promise of AI has allowed companies to attempt to help those living with Autism to live better lives and to integrate into the world. Robots such as theQTrobot andMiloare teaching children social skills and identifying their emotions. Other robots, such as the InMoov teach children sign language, whileZenoteaches children how to communicate, andKASPARreciprocates mechanical love.The autism glass project from Stanford Universityaims at helping children on the Autism spectrum to live better by providing feedback in social situations, such as greeting people, expressing needs, and resolving conflict to help them adjust to situations in daily life.

Due to Autism being viewed as a developmental disorder rather than a disease, research has not focused heavily on a cure.When Elon Musk unveiled his Neuralink research and white paper, this year, suddenly, there emerged debates around whether Autism can be cured. Musk in his interview on the Artificial Intelligence podcast with Lex Fridman, revealed that Neuralink can potentially treat many brain-related diseases such as autism.

Musk was quoted sayingSo Neuralink I think at first will solve a lot of brain-related diseases. he continued: So could be anything from, like, autism, schizophrenia, memory loss like, everyone experiences memory loss at certain points in age. Parents cant remember their kids names and that kind of thing.

Neuralinks goal is to develop an AI-enabled chip that will be implanted in the brain to gather information, monitor and potentially stimulate the brain to optimize the brains activities. It is not clear whether treating autism as a disease of the brain and not a developmental disorder is the right way to go. It is also not clear that the Neuralink project will be able to make progress in this direction without causing side effects. Nevertheless, the thought that the brains activities can even be augmented by AI unleashes new ways of thinking around finding other ways to help children with ASD, as well as numerous other neural dysfunctions.

In recent years, with the help of AI, most of the advances in mental health treatment have been around therapy (medication, counseling and more) and diagnosis.AI-enabled therapy apps and robots such as BetterHelp, ReGain, Woebot, and Wysa is helping patients around the clock day and night to manage mental health issues outside of a therapists available hours.

This is helping to take the stigma out of mental health issues as well as making therapies more accessible to the general population.

In the area of diagnosis, AI-enabled therapy systems using Big Data such as theLeso Digital Healthwill provide a host of evidence and forecast a probability of diagnosis for the therapist, so that the final diagnosis can be more evidence-based. Delivering Cognitive Behavior Therapy through written forms of communication, the AI system can use the information to measure and improve the treatment plan. It is also allowing therapists to quantify their treatment plans using data, while not losing the qualitative aspect of treatment.

Recently advances in the area of Prosthetic devices have allowed people with disabilities to see the possibilities of improved livelihood in the age of artificial intelligence.Bionic Eye such as the Argus II systemapproved by the FDA allows people with poor vision to see shapes. It will allow people with poor vision to engage in daily activities such as reading large print books and to cross the street.Ossur, a global leader in prostheticsprovides AI-enabled knee devices to enable amputees to walk in a natural way with bionic limbs. Starkey,AI medical device company that developed the Livio AI, has developed a hearing aid that will not only enhance the hearing experience by quieting all the external noise from the environment, it will also track health-related data to enable patients to seek help during emergency situations.

As we advance into the age of Artificial Intelligence, there will be more synergies created between technological innovations in artificial intelligence, big data, robotics, and medical research. The research provides evidence for the application of new possibilities in treatment, diagnosis, and healthcare management. In time, this research will become a crucial part of developing better treatment plans for those living with chronic disabilities and illnesses.

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How AI is Changing the Way We Treat Diseases and Disabilities - Forbes

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