Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has over 2000 years of history. Over the centuries, TCM has developed and evolved, improving practices and treatment methods through continual research and development. In more recent times, practitioners are finding ways to modernise the practice with the use of technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, while retaining its traditional roots.
One such area is in Tuina, a form of TCM that involves massage therapy, acupressure and manipulation of soft tissues. While effective in treating pain and improving health, the treatment is manual and labour-intensive, and it can be difficult to find trained practitioners to meet the demand. Some practitioners are trying to change this.
For example, AiTreat, a MedTech start-up founded by a Singaporean TCM practitioner, has developed an AI-powered robotic arm, EMMA, that can locate meridian points and execute personalised treatment plans customised to one’s body and symptoms. With EMMA, 80% of the repetitive work in Tuina is taken away, leaving the the TCM practitioner to focus on the more intricate specific point massages and manipulations. This improves the productivity and consistency of Tuina treatments. Mayo Clinic is leading the way in conducting a clinical evaluation of this new technology.
Advances in technology will continue to shape the future of TCM through the enhancement of clinical diagnosis and treatments. While robotic devices and AI tools are still in the early stages of development, they have the potential to revolutionise the field of Tuina and other TCM treatments, making this ancient form of medicine more accessible, more affordable and safer for patients around the world.