Heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) are the leading cause of death worldwide. They result in more than 2.4 million deaths per year in the US, more than 4 million deaths in Europe and North Asia, and one-third of total deaths in developing countries. Heart attacks can be difficult to treat – effective surgical care for heart attacks requires transdisciplinary collaboration – but there are, nonetheless, treatments available. One such treatment is to apply a cardiac patch, a structure that replaces or assists damaged tissue before the entire organ is affected. A new viscoelastic patch, recently developed through collaborative efforts between clinicians and engineers, demonstrates promising results for future cardiac therapies.
3D printing optoelectronic devices directly into curved structures could create a new paradigm for ocular prosthetics.
Today, optoelectronic devices such as LEDs and light receptors (photodiodes) are everywhere, ranging in application from mobile phone screens and energy-efficient lighting to large digital display panels and image sensors. These devices – which convert electrical energy into light or vice versa– transmit a substantial amount of visual information. Made using the same techniques used to make computer chips, optoelectronic devices similarly get smaller and smaller as technology evolves, eventually coming into closer contact with human bodies (the now-omnipresent smartwatch, for instance). With this increasing proximity comes an increasing role in our lives; where we currently rely on wearable sensing and therapeutic devices to monitor our health, routine use of smart prosthetics in our skin, tissues, and organs is fast becoming a reality.
Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a way to detect low levels of antibodies in a person’s blood – potentially allowing the individual to get treatment before they even feel sick. Brian Geiss, a senior researcher in the project, explores the possibilities of such a point-of-care diagnostic below.
“The world is becoming a smaller place” has become a bit of a cliché, but it does have a kernel of truth to it. I can be sitting on my porch in Colorado drinking coffee in the morning, and 12 hours later be having a sushi lunch in Tokyo. The movement of people, goods, and materials all over the world has become so fast and efficient that anything and anyone can get to any part of the world in less than 36 hours. Compared to just 100 years ago, our society has gone from relatively isolated independent countries to a robust interconnected network with constant flow between nodes.
A consultation with a doctor is widely imagined to be a very private affair; most take place behind a closed door, or a line of curtain. Patient confidentiality has also been considered the responsibility of the doctor since Hippocrates, but now, the ability to share information beyond a single doctor is often essential to provide continued treatment. Whether it is used to ensure a prescription can be picked up from a new location or to access life-saving expertise, this new pooling of patient data also poses an increased risk of loss, theft, or manipulation – making its security paramount. This article explores the interplay between cybersecurity with the healthcare sector, particularly in regards to medical trackers within the Internet of Things (IoT).
“And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets..”
– from the Hippocratic Oath, the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world
As we discussed earlier this month in our ‘State of Engineering’ highlight, healthcare engineering is fast becoming a multifaceted, multidisciplinary hub of innovation that encompasses wearable technology and smart equipment through to digital medicines and biopharmaceuticals. Throughout the month we’ve featured innovations such as smart wardrobes and bespoke rehabilitation systems, explored future trends in biomedical engineering, and discussed the interplay between healthcare and cybersecurity. However, additional to the day-to-day improvements to patient Quality of Life (QoL) afforded by these new technologies, another key focus of contemporary medical research lies in investigating new, more effective ways to combat diseases and health conditions, such as cancer. As such, we are turning to look at recent innovations in cancer therapy, examining a development by QEPrize donor company Hitachi that produces excellent results while limiting patient discomfort.
A pilot study at Stanford university has recently demonstrated that their AI-powered wearable therapy, Superpower Glass, can help to develop social skills in children with autism by identifying facial expressions and ‘gamifying’ social interaction. We spoke with the study’s senior author, Professor Dennis Wall, to learn more about the technology and its potential.
Compression therapy is a standard form of treatment for patients who suffer from venous ulcers and other conditions in which veins struggle to return blood from the lower extremities. Compression stockings and bandages, wrapped tightly around the affected limb, can help to stimulate blood flow. But there is currently no clear way to gauge whether a bandage is applying an optimal pressure for a given condition.
Now engineers at MIT have developed pressure-sensing photonic fibers that they have woven into a typical compression bandage. As the bandage is stretched, the fibers change color. Using a color chart, a caregiver can stretch a bandage until it matches the color for a desired pressure, before, say, wrapping it around a patient’s leg.
The photonic fibers can then serve as a continuous pressure sensor — if their color changes, caregivers or patients can use the color chart to determine whether and to what degree the bandage needs loosening or tightening.
NYU-X, housed in NYU’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing, empowers departments and centres from across the university and with external collaborators to advance a new generation of transdisciplinary research with broad societal impact. NYU-X provides an environment where anyone can: learn to become citizen scientists, designers, and entrepreneurs; explore new technologies to create prototypes and simulations; visualize data patterns and relationships; interact in virtual worlds; and ask the profound questions that push the boundaries of what is known, and what is possible. We invited them to talk with us about their recent DRESS prototype, which helps people living with dementia by guiding them as they get dressed.