한국과학기술원의 한 연구원이 돌봄 로봇 '마이봄'과 포즈를 취하고 있다. 한국과학기술원 제공
Competition heats up to develop care robots for dementia patients
치매 환자 '돌봄 로봇' 개발 경쟁 불붙어

Research institutes and companies are rushing to develop care robots for a growing number of senior citizens suffering from dementia to ease the burden on family members who take care of them, according to industry officials Tuesday.

치매로 고통 받는 노인들을 돕고 이들을 돌보는 가족들의 부담을 덜기 위한 '돌봄 로봇' 개발에 연구기관과 기업들이 앞다퉈 나서고 있다고 업계관계자는 전했다.

The state-run Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) said Monday its robot research team developed a nurse robot that can assist patients who are in the early stages of dementia.

한국과학기술연구원(KIST)은 월요일 로봇 연구팀이 치매 초기 환자들을 도울 수 있는 돌봄 로봇을 개발했다고 밝혔다.

KIST researchers said the robot, MyBom, is the industry's first artificial intelligence (AI) technology-based dementia care robot.

한국과학기술원 연구진은 로봇 마이봄이 업계 최초 인공지능(AI) 기반 치매 환자 돌봄 로봇이라고 밝혔다.

The researchers said it started to develop the nurse robot as 56 percent of dementia patients are diagnosed with "mild" dementia. 

연구진은 국내 치매 환자의 56%가 경증 치매 진단을 받았기에 이 돌봄 로봇을 개발하기 시작했다고 전했다. 

Even though it is possible to slow down the progression of the disease with proper care, many patients and their family members experience difficulties as the country lacks caregivers and support.

적절한 관리로 치매의 진행을 늦추는 것은 가능하지만, 많은 치매 환자와 가족들은 간병인과 국가의 지원 부족으로 어려움을 겪는다.

They expect the robot to independently take care of mild dementia patients for at least two hours at a time.

가족들은 돌봄 로봇이 한 번에 최소 2시간 동안 경증 치매 환자를 혼자서 돌볼 수 있을 것으로 기대하고 있다.

"With the country becoming an aging nation, the government has been operating a state program to support dementia patients. The development of nurse robots, utilizing our AI technology, can help the patients and their family members who also experience stress and physical illness," Park Sung-kee, principal researcher and head of the Convergence Research Center for Diagnosis, Treatment and Care System of Dementia at KIST, said.

박성기 한국과학기술연구원 치매DCT융합연구단 책임연구원은 "고령화 사회가 되면서 정부는 치매 환자를 지원하기 위한 국가 프로그램을 운영하고 있다. 우리의 AI 기술을 활용한 돌봄 로봇의 개발은 스트레스와 신체적 질병으로 고통 받는 환자와 그 가족 구성원들에게 도움을 줄 수 있을 것"이라고 말했다.

Korea's population is aging rapidly and about 800,000 elderly people are living with dementia. The Ministry of Health and Welfare forecasts the number of dementia patients to grow to 2.71 million by 2050 and the disease has become an increasingly serious social issue because it harms not only the patients themselves but also family members who have to take care of them.

한국의 인구는 빠르게 고령화되고 있으며 약 80만 명의 노인들이 치매를 앓고 있다. 치매는 환자 본인뿐만 아니라 돌봐야 하는 가족까지 고통을 주는 만큼 점점 심각한 사회문제가 된다. 보건복지부는 2050년까지 치매 환자가 271만 명으로 늘어날 것으로 전망하고 있다.

코리아타임스 홍지민

“시사와 영어를 한 번에” Korea Times Weeklywww.koreatimes.co.kr/weekly.htm

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