Physiotherapy student Sandra Herrnegger tells about the experiences she made during her 8-week internship at RoboAI Research and Development Center, where she was able to immerse herself into the unknown world of technology and an exciting multidisciplinary project process related to healthcare and technology.
The ability to work together in a team on a project and still be self-reliant and independently fulfilling one's role or task are for me main criteria to feel comfortable as an intern at RoboAI Center, to benefit for professional development and to be a support to the company. As an absolute advocate of multidisciplinary work in the healthcare field, it was enriching for me to actively participate in a wide variety of projects.
In the Satakunta Testbed project, I had the opportunity to learn about currently available technologies for health and well-being, to research their application and to present my findings to students, teachers, residential communities, and other interested parties in cooperation with Soteekki-Sosiaali-ja terveysalan palvelukeskus. Being given the responsibility to pass on my newly learned knowledge to others, has boosted my confidence, enriched the learning process, and provided me with a meaningful and motivating task.
Together with the team of the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) project, my task was to plan an exercise program for elderly people living in a communal home, which in the future will be guided by a mobile robot that is being developed withing the same project. Such technologies will be tested in cooperation of different partner companies. In addition, procedures, findings, and results of the project will be academically reported and justified in form of an article publication I have been asked to be an active author for. In this project I was able to apply my physiotherapeutic knowledge, research skills, as well as my creativity while I was working closer with my mentoring physiotherapist Taina Jyräkoski, who was guiding and supporting me throughout the whole practice.
Through the pilot project New technologies for assessing and monitoring brain health I was able to get my first practical experience with electroencephalogram technologies and got more familiar with neuromodulation, cognitive science, and related research in theory.
Technological Competence, Individualized Care and Safety
As a quite reserved user of technologies my skepticism was initially greater than my curiosity. Being open-minded and neutral towards technology and anything new in general is clearly an advantage here at RoboAI Center. My critical mind was challenged here, and the new knowledge and experiences I was able to gain helped me contrast the benefits and dangers of technology in healthcare. Not only did I gain insight into the world of technology, but more importantly, I had the chance to test it myself in a safe environment.
Based on this experience, I can say from a physical therapy perspective that technology must be handled carefully, if applied in health care settings. Individualized care and safety take a high priority and the expertise of therapists in the field is essential, especially when initially integrating technology into therapy or when introducing patients or therapists to an unfamiliar tool.
Technological Development as a growing field in Healthcare
The RoboAI Research and Development Center strives hard to pass on the technological competencies to professionals with the goal of creating self-confidence in dealing with technological developments.
Grateful for the time of practice, I would like to say that the internship offers physiotherapy students like me the opportunity to gain first experiences and knowledge in a yet relatively unfamiliar and growing field and I can highly recommend the collaboration between physiotherapy students and RoboAI Health team in the future.