“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
– Arthur C. Clarke.
Likewise, countless number of novel inventions have revolutionised the field of medical science which has enabled us to make incredibly fast advancements, especially during the past few decades. Here are six examples out of an exhaustive list of medical developments that have shaped our current medical practices. If you never believed in magic, think again after reading some of these mind-blowing technologies that currently exist.
1. Virtual reality (VR) / Augmented reality (AR)
VR and AR are no longer unfamiliar terms in modern society with its increasing availability to the general public through digital mobile devices we currently hold today. In a medical context, these technologies can be used as an effective educational tool to train students with various healthcare scenarios with minimal associated risks, such as surgical simulation, diagnostic imaging of patient-care interactions. Additionally, it can be used in therapy and recovery to relieve pain or anxiety, since there are no limits on what can be programmed.
2. 3D Printing
3D printing is renowned for its advantages in being able to produce extremely detailed objects with minimal materials. The development of this technology has greatly advanced the medical field, specifically in prosthetic and implants. This can include artificial joints and casts that are designed to perfectly match individual patients to reduce complications, rejections or discomfort. Even further, scientists have developed a way to print small bionic organs using live tissues to be used in transplant surgeries!
3. Cancer-fighting Nano particles
It is not new information that cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. For that reason, countless research has been undertaken to develop a “cure”, although difficulties arise from its complexity in formation and development processes. However, a promising method that has recently emerged, uses sub-microscopic vessels. These are so incredibly small that its size is 10000 times thinner than the width of hair! These particles are injected into the body for attachment to tumour cells, which act as heat receivers that ultimately destroys abnormal cells.
Developed by a 17-year-old American student, VETI-GEL is a ground-breaking way to instantly stop bleeding without a bandage or any pressure-applying materials. Can you believe that it only takes less than a second for the gel to activate once injected? It works by triggering our blood to clump together and form a blockage at wound sites, as well as promoting quicker healing process. Furthermore, it can be stored at room temperature which means that the product can be widely used and distributed anywhere. Currently, it is commercially available for veterinary use however trials are still being undertaken for human applications.
5. Cochlear implant
According to the World Health Organisation, over 5% of the world’s population is estimated to have hearing loss – which means that approximately 466 million people are unable to hear sounds. This is caused by non-functioning auditory nerves in the ear, whether it be due to damage or innate impairment. The cochlear implant invented by Graeme Clark, enables these nerves to be stimulated where signals are then sent to the brain for recognition as sound. It works differently to a hearing-aid that simply amplifies the sounds entering the ear. Ever since the product’s commercialisation, more than 350 000 implants have been installed and have changed countless lives.
6. EnChroma glasses
Whilst it may not be special for majority of people to see the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, navy, purple), colour-blindness is a condition whereby an individual is unable to distinguish different shades of specific colours. Commonly, they are unable to separate greens and reds thus often see them as one same colour. The specially designed lenses on EnChroma glasses adopt “optical lens technology” to assist the eyes in recognising the varying colours that exist through altering perceived wavelengths of light. Although these are not permanent solutions for colour-blindness, they serve as an excellent supplementary apparatus.
STEAM Powered Kids will be launching a series of STEM workshops focusing on the medical field in July 2019 named Me & Anatomy. www.steampoweredkids.com.au/workshops