A research team led by Igor Efimov at Washington University in St. Lewis has developed a stretchy, custom-fitted, implantable device that can give doctors feedback about life-threatening irregularities occurring inside someone’s heart. This photo shows sensors embedded in the silicon membrane that could provide stimulation to the surface of the heart. (Source: Washington University/St. Louis)
This is an interesting follow-up to another story I wrote about heart-valve technology that flexes like a real heart valve: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=272112
There is a lot of new innovation happening in the area of artificial heart technology and other technology to help people with heart problems, as well as technology to improve other artificial limbs. This one especially is really interesting, because it marks a possible breakthrough in treatment for people with chronic heart problems. I'd be curious to see what those in the medical field think about this.
Thanks Elizebeth for such an interesting post , No doubt 3d technology is being used for a number of good and life saving purposes . I was just aware that this technology is being used in medical in terms of transpants of the organs and dentistry but ths smart membrane is really very innovative method of detecting heart problems.
You're welcome, Debera. I didn't know this technology was used for other applications, so it's good to know that now. And yes, the heart application is really fascinating and could do a lot to help people with chronic heart conditions in terms of quality of life, I think.
Excellent post Elizabeth. Several years ago my father, age 84 at that time, underwent emergency surgery for a heart valve replacement. He was a candidate due to his overall physical condition. Today he is 91 and probably has a stronger heart than I. Medical engineering and medical technology absolutely amaze me and the application of 3-D printing to these fascinating fields indicates what a marvelous place and future "addititive" manufacturing has. I really appreciate the information and had no idea engineers and doctors were working towards this type of preventative medicine.
In addition to applications in the heart area, perhaps other areas of the body could also benefit from this electrical technology. Maybe patients who suffer from certain conditions in the brain (such as epilepsy) could also use the monitoring and sensing provided by this development in the future.
Yes Greg, This is really a vast field and its just the begining . This technology will surely bring wonders in medical sciences and it will be a lot help to the patients who are suffering with chronic diseases .
That is a good idea, Greg. I am sure there would be some other considerations to the technology when dealing with the delicate conditions of the brain, but I am sure it could be modified to this area of the body. I just wrote about technology to help people with migraines that is used externally to stimulate a key cranial nerve (stay tuned--the story hasn't posted online yet) so maybe something like that could be modified for internal use for epilepsy or other disorders.
Thanks, bobjengr, for your comment and the great story about your dad. I'm so glad to hear things went well and he remains so healthy. Some of these innovations are truly amazing and it's for operations like the one he had that this research is so beneficial. And as you mention, to prevent problems before operations like heart-valve replacements are necessary can lead to an even greater good.
@ bobjengr, good to know your father weathered that valve replacement surgery and has stronger heart now. It seems good to have some heart problem and come out with stronger heart. On a serious note, application of 3-D printing to medical engineering is bearing fruit which is good and has great prospects in future.
Actually, bobjengr, you bring up a good point that I raised in a story I wrote awhile back on the Bionic Man: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=270180
There is an idea in the medical field that human replacement parts (prosthetics and other artificial parts) are not just making humans equal to the strength they had before the replacement, but actually stronger. So your dad would be a case in point--his heart may be even stronger now not only than his diseased heart, but even the heart he originally had from birth. So then there becomes an ethical question in medicine, whether it's OK to start making people not just whole again human-wise, but even super human.
I think it's quite an interesting debate, but personally think a lot of what medicine is doing in this respect is amazing.
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
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