Medical innovations are advancing in leaps and bounds. New technology seems to appear every time you watch the news. Until recently, only scientists or medical researchers got to use sophisticated gadgets. Nowadays, futuristic technology is showing up in hospitals and doctors’ offices too.
These inventions have significant advantages. Many will save money for providers and patients alike. They promise to diagnose in less time and with less risk than traditional approaches do. But more importantly, they may save more lives.
Here are some of the most revolutionary medical innovations that we think will transform healthcare as we know it.
While it emerged more than 30 years ago, 3-D printing has only become mainstream over the past decade. The machines themselves are cheap to buy. They can create healthcare devices and implements at a low cost. They allow providers to create devices tailored to their patients.
The possibilities are endless. Hospitals can print models of a patient’s organs to perform simulated surgeries. 3-D printers are creating skin for burn victims. They can quickly print airway splints for babies at risk of suffering collapsed lungs—and at just $10 per unit!
3-D printers are already changing the healthcare landscape by bringing specialized care to underserved and rural areas.
These ingestible, capsule-sized gadgets can diagnose gastrointestinal issues from the esophagus to the colon. The procedure is non-invasive and less uncomfortable than a colonoscopy or an endoscopy. Patients ingest a tiny device that contains a combination of cameras, sensors, and trackers. A technician then reviews the data collected from the device.
A specialized pill cam examines specific areas, such as the stomach, or the small intestine. The outpatient procedure is more comprehensive than it’s counterparts. It’s also much less expensive. Best of all, it has a lower rate of complications than surgical procedures.
Also known as “smart pills,” pill cams are already in use, and you may be able to request this procedure from your current gastroenterologist.
Robot Nurse Assistants
There are many different robots being developed to help in medical settings. Some have the ability to navigate hospital rooms and hallways while others remain with the patient. For instance, a “walker robot” can push wheelchairs or move IV poles for patients. It can fetch and dispense medications to nurses. A “patient sitting” robot can retrieve items for bedridden patients. It can alert the nurse when a patient requires help. It can read aloud to the visually impaired. Robots such as these free up nurses to perform more skilled tasks.
The thought of a robot taking someone’s vitals might seem like something from science fiction. In fact, robots may already be working at a hospital near you.
Bionic-like prosthetics are cropping up in just about every medical field. There are activity-specific prostheses that allow amputees to play the guitar, shoot baskets, or row a kayak. There are prosthetic arms complete with bionic hands controlled by the wearer’s thoughts. And yes, some of you may already be reading this article through bionic eye implants.
The loss of a limb is a life-shattering event. Today’s advances in prosthetic technology make it easier to get back to a full life than ever before. These advances stand to improve countless peoples’ lives.
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A BCI (brain-computer interface) is a connection between a person’s brain and a computerized device. It reads brain signals and translates them into action. It controls the thought-activated prosthetic limbs mentioned above. Some feel that this is the single most important medical innovation of our time.
Researchers are developing BCIs that help patients with advanced Alzheimer’s communicate simple thoughts. The same technology can help people who have suffered stroke regain mobility or speech. It can be used as an early intervention tool for detecting learning disorders. Although most BCI’s are still under development, what they promise to accomplish seems just short of miraculous.
Medical Innovations and You
Although we’ve just looked at a handful of new technologies, there are many others. These advances not only revolutionize the future of healthcare but are already improving lives. If you think these medical innovations won’t apply to you, think again. You may soon find yourself swallowing a camera instead of undergoing an invasive procedure. The future of healthcare is already here!