Last year at the Singularity Europe Summit, I saw with my own eyes how exoskeletons such as the one from Ekso Bionics let paralyzed patients walk again. Now ReWalk just received FDA approval. Great news, important steps towards a much better world.
After his first few surgeries, when he regained use of his arms, he did what many of us would do in times of uncertainty — he turned to the Internet to research. He came across The ReWalk, a robotic exoskeleton developed by Argo Medical Technologies in Israel. Its inventor, Dr. Amit Goffer, was a quadriplegic who was searching for a better alternative to the wheelchair.
Read more news about the future of medicine every day on MedicalFuturist.com!
Innovation in the digital and social media-rich era of medicine can come from anyone. Here is a proof as a car mechanic, based on a party trick, came up with a solution for difficult births.
A “potentially revolutionary” device to help women during difficult births has come from an unlikely source – a car mechanic from Argentina, who based the idea on a party trick.
Apart from having five children of his own, Jorge Odon had no connection with the world of obstetrics. He did however have a talent for invention.
This is the original trick:
And his innovation:
Cardiology is a key area that could use some refreshments regarding the tools and devices used to teach its anatomy and physiology in the medical curriculum.
Based on a patient’s CT scan and using a mix of stereo lithography and other prototyping techniques, xCardio creates a copy of a human heart that is anatomically correct both inside and out.
While the main purpose of a new game, Relive, is to increase the awareness about CPR and push people, especially teenagers and young adults, to take a CPR class and be prepared to intervene in case of need.
See 6 Reasons Why I Wish I Was a Medical Student Now and how Synthetic Human Cadavers could be used in medical education.
The Nokia Sensing XChallenge is one of those driving forces that can initiate real innovations in healthcare and the new grand prize winner was just announced. Nanobiosym is taking the ability to diagnose disease and monitor personal health outside of a hospital or pathology lab.
Nanobiosym® (NBS) is an innovation engine dedicated to creating a new science that emerges from the holistic integration of physics, biomedicine, and nanotechnology. NBS focuses on incubating transformational technologies that have the potential for game-changing impact and commercializing and scaling up these technologies for deployment in developed and developing world markets. NBS leverages science and technology to address our planet’s greatest unmet needs in global health, energy and the environment.
Here is their team video:
The new technology developed by Nymi was just announced and will certainly raise important questions about security. This is a bracelet using ECG authentication serving as a password to access computers or open doors.
The benefit of the Nymi’s new and exciting ECG authentication is that it is highly secure without compromising convenience. The Nymi has a 3-Factor system ensures that you and only you have access to your Nymi, and control of your identity. To access the Nymi you must first have possession of the wristband. Second, you must possess your unique heart rhythm, and finally, you must have access to the secure application on a registered smartphone. Once you’ve authenticated, you will remain authenticated so long as the wristband is not removed.
While the idea is great, what about people with different forms of arrhythmia? What about ECG results available in medical records of almost everyone? I hope the team behind Nymi will give us the responses.
One of the trending topics of the last couple of years has clearly been 3D printing as it has a lot to offer not only in medicine and healthcare but in any industries as well. How useful printing medical devices in underdeveloped areas could be, or even printing simpler drugs. But imagine a world in which you can print living materials and tissues.
A PopSci article described how a bioprinter works, here is the simplified process:
- Step 1: Engineers load one syringe with a bio-ink containing tens of thousands of parenchymal liver cells and a second syringe with a bio-ink containing non-parenchymal liver cells.
- Step 2: Software on a PC wired to the bioprinter instructs a stepper motor attached to the robotic arm to begin printing a mold (arranged in a honeycomb pattern).
- Step 3: A sensor tracks the tip of each syringe as it moves along and determines where the first syringe should be positioned.
- Step 4: The robotic arm lowers the pump head with the first syringe, which fills the honeycomb with parenchymal cells.
- Step 5: Engineers remove the well plate and place it in an incubator. There, the cells continue fusing to form the complex matrix of a liver tissue.
A similar process in action when Chinese scientists are successfully 3D printing living human kidneys is demonstrated in the video:
To produce mass amounts of the living cells, samples of human kidney cells are cultured in large volumes and blended with hydrogel, a water- and nutrition-rich material that makes up the 3D printed kidneys’ base. Afterwards, the printed cells can survive for up to four monthsin a lab thanks to this gel’s rich nutrient source.
The New York Times also has a great video about this topic.
But there is a huge technological issue. Printing something new in 3D requires detailed knowledge and prepared models. Therefore people now print objects of which the models are already available online. A solution might be provided by Makerbot Digitizer which actually replicates objects and print them in 3D. Again, imagine the same thing with living tissues.
It’s much more futuristic than just printing 3D objects, but its time will come.
Makerbot Digitizer costs $1400.
In a few more years, in rural areas it’s going to feel like a doctor is there with the patient while the doc is miles away although the iRobot will be in its place.
iRobot even retooled itself to build an emerging technologies group, announcing a partnership with InTouch Health to put its AVA telepresence technology to better use. Today the two companies are announcing the fruits of their labor — the Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant, or RP-VITA. The project aims to combine the best of iRobot’s AVA telepresence units with InTouch health’s own bots, creating an easy to use system that allows physicians to care for patients remotely without stumbling over complicated technology.
I’ve written about the AED Trainer, an app by Ivor Kovic, MD that helps learn to use an automated external defibrillator. Now 5 promo codes are available for the app and the first 5 people leaving a comment on this blog post asking for the codes will receive those. Hurry up!
AED Trainer app offers a cost saving alternative for educating laypersons and healthcare providers in the effective use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). It mimics all the features and prompts of existing live AEDs, and allows configuration with scenario builder that provides students with valuable and realistic training.
It can be used by layman and healthcare professionals to get familiar about who an AED works and be ready to use one in case of an emergency. Furthermore, the app can be extremely useful in offering a realistic and immersive training experience on regular CPR & AED courses.
I got access to the Robot Report written by Frank Tobe from the recent Consumer Electronics Show 2012. He featured many innovative and futuristic consumer robots out of which a few, I think, had real medical or health-related implications. You can download the document here. An excerpt:
Consumer robotics represented a very small part of CES but had the same combination of glitz, glamour, marvelous stuff, misrepresentation, uninspiring products and hidden gems, just like the rest of CES. Robotics Trends hosted a Robotics Tech Zone but the action was well beyond their purview because many of the companies wanted to emphasize their consumer orientation instead of highlighting the robotic.
- PerMMA, a personal mobility and manipulation appliance for power wheelchair users.
- Myomo, rehabilitation robotics and interactive gaming systems for stroke victim rehab.
- Mantaro telepresence robot, a mobile Skype platform using your own iPhone or iPad.
- Paro, the therapeutic furry seal-like bot for hospitals and eldercare.
I’ve recently come across this digital cane designed by a Lithuanian designer Egle Ugintaite for the Fujitsu 2011 design award in which he won the grand prize. Great idea!
The cane, which is known as the Aid, has a built-in navigator that provides the user directions to a certain location. So if you get lost, this cane will point the way home.
Additional features include monitors for the user’s pulse, blood pressure, as well as body temperature. These important numbers are displayed on the LCD screen on the cane’s clasp. It even has a button for sending out an SOS in case of emergency.