I was making my daily rounds on the Internet the other day when I stumbled upon an article about a woman controlling a robotic arm with her mind.
At first, it sounds like the plot of a bad movie, but in reality, it was just one story of how advancements in technology are making a woman’s dreams come true.
Jan Scheuermann has, unfortunately, been paralyzed for the last 14 years, but after breakthroughs at MIT, she might be able to start using these robotic limbs to her advantage.
When you sit down and think about what a momentous achievement this is, and what it could mean to so many people, it truly is overwhelming. It got me thinking about what other medical marvels are there out there in the form of technology.
What else has some genius come up with to aid someone in need?
The first thing that caught my attention were the advancements being made in terms of eye care.
Now, I’m the guy who finds the fact that optometrists use lasers to cut away 1/39 billionth of an inch of your eye, in 1/4 billionth of a second during laser eye surgery amazing — like, seriously amazing. So, when I came across bionic eyes, I was rather blown away.
So, when I came across bionic eyes, I was rather blown away.
Apparently, in the world today, these aforementioned eyes exist, and they help visually-impaired people all over the world.
A common reason for blindness and visual disparity is enduring damage to the photoreceptors, which are the cells at the back of the retina that distinguish light patterns and relay them to the brain. Bionic eyes target these cells.
The eyes don’t literally restore sight to what once perhaps was, but they help the photoreceptors to distinguish light again. It might only be a basic, black-and-white, shapes view that the recipient gains, but to these people, it’s a world of difference.
Watch this video of a man, who has been blind for the last 30 years of this life, experience what a bionic eye can do and you’ll witness firsthand just how important these medical wonders are.
One other way in which medical technology managed to leave my jaw agape during this day of wonderment was the focus of technology in a preventative sense.
There must be more people than you can count who were told, “If we had caught this sooner…” by doctors. Those six words could be the worst words anyone may hear, but with technology heightening as the years go on, we hope those words will never have to be uttered again.
Search engine giant Google is just one company who is fighting the fight by working on technology that will allow the diagnosis of cancer, heart attacks, strokes and countless other horrible ailments at a much earlier stage than they are at the moment.
In great sci-fi fashion, this technology would enter your bloodstream after being swallowed. The hope is that the technology will then feed back information about changes in your biochemistry to a watch-like monitor that will be worn on your wrist.
The masterminds working on this technology work at a top secret facility known as Google X. Early diagnosis of these health issues can be the difference between life and death for so many people, and the advancements being made could swing the balance towards life.
In addition, something that has been all over the news in recent times is 3D printing. There’s an endless list of things that have been constructed using 3D printers so far, such as working guns, camera lenses, playable guitars, fabrics, shoes and many more.
However, one of the most important ways in which 3D printing is being utilized is in the field of medicine.
To start things off, when a boffin at Glasgow University, Professor Lee Cronin first heard of 3D printers, he had only one thought come to mind: How can these be used to help people? His answer was to turn them into an efficient chemistry set.
Cronin has managed to modify a 3D printer that spits out “reagents” that will, in turn, form more complex molecules and, virtually, create medicine.
He has come up with a machine that churns out pills and tablets. This could lower the cost of medicine and make a healthier life a much shorter reach for many more people.
Maybe, more important, is the fact that 3D printing can also produce body parts. Now, these are not working body parts, yet, but they still have been of great use.
Doctors in New York took a scan of a very ill baby’s heart in order to get a better idea of what needed to be repaired. Because of this, they were able to operate successfully.
People are already benefitting from artificial limbs that have been 3D-printed, and medical implants are also high on the list of why 3D printers are possibly the greatest invention since x-ray machines.
In fact, the potential implementation of medical procedures and implants is believed to be one of the largest reasons of the growth of 3D printing technology.
It is estimated that in just a few years, scientists will have produced a machine that will print human tissue and make the need of waiting for an organ transplant, or something similar, completely redundant. Let’s hope this happens sooner rather than later.
While some of these breakthroughs do sound like something straight out of a movie, they are very much a reality.
It shows a lot that people are dedicating their lives to ultimately helping others, and we should all hope for medicine to continue making the strides it is; it can only do further good.