For a better quality of life, innovation in medical technologies is a major field of interest. Scientists and medical researchers are working tirelessly to make the healthcare system better with convenient access to the patient. With the ongoing pandemic in the world, called COVID ’19”, large investments are being made in medical technologies and devices. All over the world countries are dedicating a huge percentage of their budget to medical research. The stakes have never been higher.
And amidst the chaos, listed down are some of the medical technologies that are paving their ways to make life easy.
Some of these have been recently launched and some are well known. But we know for sure that these and other countless devices and medical technologies are making it easier for a patient from a life-threatening disease.
1. ABBOTT Antibody tests for COVID’19
Two types of antibodies are produced in a patient once infected by COVID’19.
- IgG antibodies are released after showing symptoms of COVID’19 for 7-10 days. These antibodies remain in the blood even after the person is cured. They are useful to indicate if a person had COVID’19 in the near past. IgG antibodies protect from further infection up to a certain amount of time.
- IgM antibodies are usually produced first when the person is infected. A positive test indicates that the person is infected and the immune system is fighting against the infection.
Abbott has produced kits for testing people for antibodies that may tell if a person has been infected by COVID’19 in the past. It is to be used to test blood samples taken from the veins of a suspected patient. The samples are tested on Abbott’s Alinity I or ARCHITECT instrument. The test results are available in 24-48 hours and tell whether a patient has developed the IgG antibody to SARS-Cov-2.
2. REUSABLE N95 MASK
Engineers developed by the researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, this reusable mask is made reusable silicon rubber. With the widespread of COVID’19, one-time use of masks is a big problem faced by the world. These silicone masks can be sterilized and reused easily. These masks have filters that can be replaced after use and the masks can be cleaned with wipes and used again with new filters. Another version of the mask is being worked on with better durability and filtration capacity.
The demand for ventilators has increased ten folds. Countries all over the world are working day in and day out to manufacture a cost-effective solution to the problem. Since it is a crucial machine, hence accurate electronic devices are needed for manufacturing. Engineers are working on low cost, open-source ventilators which can be manufactured in the least possible time. So what are ventilators?
Ventilators help patients suffering from Pneumonia, brain injury, or strokes; to breathe. This is done by assisting the patient to inhale and exhale air. A ventilator uses pressure called “Positive Pressure” to blow oxygen into the lungs. The oxygen level is controlled through a monitor. A breathing tube is used to blow air into the patient.
4. INFUSION PUMP
An infusion pump is used to deliver a controlled amount of fluid into a patient’s body. These fluids could be nutrients or medicines. They can be both, stationary to be used at the patient’s bedside, or portable. These may be powered electrically or mechanically. The different types of infusion pumps available are:
- Enteral Pumps: Used to pump liquid medications and nutrients into a patient’s digestive tract.
- Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA) pumps: Used to deliver pain medications.
- Insulin pumps: Used frequently at homes to deliver insulin to diabetic patients.
5. ARTIFICIAL ORGANS
With engineers working to make 3D printing efficient, and with the regeneration of skin cells for burn victims. The future of artificial printed organs looks bright. Bio-printing is being actively researched on with scientists being able to artificial blood vessels and synthetic ovaries. This could prove to be revolutionary. It is amazing how these bio-printed organs have not been rejected by the body’s immune system. This has the potential to save millions in the future.
6. SMART INHALERS
Inhalers are used by asthma patients to intake medications. If taken correctly, this could be effective for 90% of patients. By using Bluetooth technology, this smart inhaler can record data and time of each dose and check if it was correctly taken. The data is available to the patient on their smartphone. This device has reduced the medicine intake and allows the patients to carefully monitor their condition.
7. ARTIFICIAL CARDIAC PACEMAKER
An artificial cardiac pacemaker is a small, lightweight device operated on batteries. It is used to monitor the heartbeats and notifies when the heart is beating irregularly. It sends a signal to a signal to the heart to regulate the heartbeat.
8. FREESTYLE LIBRE SYSTEM (CONTINUOUS GLOCUSE MONITOR)
It allows for continuous glucose monitoring of patients with diabetes. It has a sensor that is worn on the backside of the upper arm. The patient can get real-time glucose measurements by bringing the smartphone near the sensor. In 1 second, the app on the smartphone displays information related to the current glucose levels, whether they are increasing or decreasing and trends in glucose levels over a period of 3 months. This device has helped in improving the lives of more than 2.5 million people around the world and is proving to be a game-changer for diabetic patients.
9. IMPLANTABLE MEDICAL ELECTRONICS
This medical device made up of bioresorbable electronics is placed in the brain and is absorbed by the body once its work is done. Hence, no surgery is needed to remove it physically. A team of engineers and neurosurgeons developed these electronics to monitor intracranial temperature and pressure.
10. CENTRIMAG CIRCULATORY SUPPORT SYSTEM – P170038
Approved by FDA in 2019, it is used to help the heart to circulate blood in patients who have a week circulatory system. It includes a motor, a blood pump, a monitor, probes, and cannulae. It is used to support the right-center or left hear ventricles after by-pass surgery. This device works by pumping the blood from the heart to either the blood vessel that supplies blood to the lungs or to the blood vessels that supply blood to the lungs. It is connected to the patient’s heart and blood vessels by using tubes (cannulae).
11. WEARABLE CARDIOVERTER DEFIBRILLATOR
This device is used by people at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. This rechargeable device can be worn all day. It uses algorithm and wave morphology to detect arrhythmias. In case of noise or irregular pattern, it detects arrhythmia and signals the patient for 30s. The patient can then press 02 buttons to reduce the shock.
All these devices and technologies are helping people lead a healthier and longer life. As time passes, researchers and engineers are working towards a world with better medical facilities. The current epidemic of COVID’19 has provided an opportunity for the government of every country to invest in medical research and production. As local production would not only reduce the cost of these devices but also provide the medical researchers and engineers a chance to use their skills in the development of this field.