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 armís DSP interprets the signal and then sends a command to the hand motor, which closes the hand. (Source: Liberating Technologies)
Wow, what a great slide show, Chuck and what an impressive lineup of technology. I'm particularly struck by how far prosthesis have come with technical advances like robotics and sensors enabling the device to mimic real human movement and to tie into the nerves for natural dexerity. Amazing what engineers are accomplishing.
Charles, now a day's medical electronics becomes more complex in terms of technology and nearer in terms of usability. In hospitals, most of the common medical procedures are replaced by black box devices, which can perform at a faster speed and accurate diagnosis. I read that some research is going for artificial limbs, which are similar to biological limb having sensitivity.
I remember when I first graduated college in the early 80's nearly all of my peers were taking jobs with major defense contractors.The joke was, mechanical engineers made weapons.Civil Engineers make Targets.I really didn't like that joke and vowed to always work in industrieswhere technology advancements improve the human condition.After 30-some years, I admit I have spent some time in military contract work, but medical, automotive and communication have been my career.Seeing these latest prosthetics validates my earliest career choice.The Mechatronics interrelationship with human physiology and nervous system was once just a dream now being realized. Absolutely fantastic stuff.
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.
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?
Great slideshow, Chuck. That first one reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode I saw as a kid, where the lead character discovers to his horror that he's actually an android by picking at what appears to be a scab or something on his wrist, and peeling up his "skin" to reveal electronics underneath. Here's a photo from that scene:
Chuck, I'm amazed you remember that one--heck, I'm amazed I did. I'd completely forgotten it until I saw that first slide in this slideshow. And seeing that slide gave me a shiver--it had scared the heck out of me when I saw it the first time. It is weird to see that old science fiction coming alive.
I have actually used the EZ-IO device on several patients in cardiac arrest. As an EE and a paramedic, I am always amazed at the engineering marvels that enable me to do a better job as a paramedic. I am amazed at how easy, fast, and effective it is to use. It can be tough getting an IV started on a patient in cardiac arrest, especially when they are wedged in some very tight awkward space (if there are other EMS providers out there, you KNOW what I am talking about)! When trying to do advanced skills like intubation, IV's, medications, defibrillation, etc in the field, it's not as easy as on a nice clean emergency room bed at just the right height with plenty of light and manpower. Every second counts in cardiac arrest and this device is simple and fast! It may be a little nerve racking the first time you use it to "drill" into someone's bone, but when you see positive results from it the first time, you really learn to love it! It allows a LOT more IV fluid to run than I ever thought it would, and I have given a medication, done a few compressions, and seen EKG changes in a matter of seconds! EMS is becoming more advanced every day, and anything that makes the job easier and more effective is always appreciated!
EZ-IO is one of my favorite technology stories, EEMedic. I'm glad to hear the technology is having such a lifesaving effect in the field. The story behind the invention is amazing. The physician who invented it was in part inspired by the work of his father, an automotive engineer.
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.
Nice show Charles. I actually was fortunate enough to see Dr. Herr's keynote address at last year's Sensor Expo in Rosemount, IL. In Ann's recent article on Robots in operating theatres I had thought of Dr. Herr. Good to see him included in this. And yes the comment about the Twilight Zone highlights the neccessity of a vibrant 'arts' community to foster ideas that may some day become reality by influencing & inspirinhg young minds to higher goals!!
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.
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.
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.
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