Physicians get the credit for saving lives, but the behind-the-scenes work of engineers improves the lives of countless people in hospitals across the country every day.
Bionic limbs, innovative infusion systems, and transcranial doppler brain scanners are just some of the innovations engineers are bringing to the exploding medical design arena.
Click the image below to see 13 significant advances in medical technology:
Jesse Sullivan, a Tennessee power company lineman whose arms were amputated after he was electrocuted on the job, now has artificial limbs that let him rotate his wrists and upper arms, bend his elbow, grip with his hand, and, incredibly, feel. Sullivan's arm employs nerves from the chest muscle. When that muscle contracts, a myoelectric sensor atop his skin detects the contraction and sends it to an amplifier and then to a digital signal processor (DSP) in the Boston Digital Arm. The arm’s DSP interprets the signal and then sends a command to the hand motor, which closes the hand. (Source: Liberating Technologies)
The nerve reinnervation and prosthetic technology from the Rehab Institute of Chicago is incredible to say the least! I looked for a follow-up on it but couldn't find anything. Any word on how it's progressed since then?
Just figured I would add another comment to the EZ-IO...my EMS agency saved another life using the EZ-IO last week. NOTE: I was NOT involved in this event; I am just relaying the info from other EMS providers who were there. A woman collapsed at a local bank, bystanders performed CPR and called 911. When our EMS crew arrived they found the woman in cardiac arrest in an EKG Rhythm called Ventricular Fibrillation, or V-Fib, they defibrillated the patient with no change in rhythm and continued CPR. For those of you not in the medical field, an EKG rhythm of V-Fib is 100% fatal without rapid treatment. The crew used the EZ-IO to obtain access for medication administration. They then administered multiple medications and defibrillated the patient several times while transporting the patient to the closest hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital the patient had a pulse, a decent blood pressure, and was breathing on her own. She spent several days in the ICU and was then discharged home and has made a full recovery with no loss of function. The crew stated that the EZ-IO definitely allowed them to get vascular access quicker than a standard IV would have and were therefore able to administer medications much more quickly, which is very important for a patient in V-Fib who does not respond to defibrillation alone. Many factors came together just right to save this woman's life, especially the quick action of the bystanders, but EZ-IO also played a very important role.
I agree completely—the field of Biomedical Engineering is truly fascinating and growing by leaps and bounds.Just today I was talking to an entering sophomore at Purdue University about career fields in engineering.I mentioned Biomedical and indicated to her that, if I had to do it all over again, I would choose that field.I feel the technology is progressing at a very rapid pace and biomedical robotics has ever increasing importance and is just in its infancy.We see daily the men and women who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan with limbs missing and wonder what remedies exists for such terrible wounds.The solution may eventually be robotic arms, legs, feet.Doctors can't do this—only engineers.
I agree, WilliamK. Bioengineering is one of the inspiring areas of engineering today. Doctors get all the credit for saving lives, but developments in medical electronics save tens of thousands of lives that we never hear about.
Very well said. What a contrast to those "human" beings that work in aerial drone design and manufacture, that mostly ignore the terrible consecuences of killing human beings from far away. So much for Nobel Prize "peace" dignitaries that actively promote such uses for technology. I congratulate you for choosing the most ethic way to use your knowledge. Amclaussen.
Interesting...never knew the story behind the device...just know that we like it a lot! Our regional EMS office has required that we carry either the EZ-IO or another device that is spring loaded...almost every agency has chosen the EZ-IO, even though the cost was a little higher, its easy of use and simplicity won out.
The question of whether engineers could have foreseen the shortcut maintenance procedures that led to the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in 1979 will probably linger for as long as there is an engineering profession.
More than 35 years later, the post-mortem on one of the country’s worst engineering disasters appears to be simple. A contractor asked for a change in an original design. The change was approved by engineers, later resulting in a mammoth structural collapse that killed 114 people and injured 216 more.
If you’re an embedded systems engineer whose analog capabilities are getting a little bit rusty, then you’ll want to take note of an upcoming Design News Continuing Education Center class, “Analog Design for the Digital World,” running Monday, Nov. 17 through Friday, Nov. 21.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.