Did you know that doctors created an artificial chest wall for a sickly young boy? Doctors molded Sean McCormack's cells into a chest wall using a bioreactor. Once his new chest wall was formed, surgeons successfully implanted it inside of him. This incredibly dangerous surgery was the first of its kind, and had to be approved by the federal government. Physicians would not have been able to perform this groundbreaking procedure without help from the technological community. Throughout history, medicine has evolved due to the increased amount of modern technology.
Telemedicine is medicine practiced long-distance with the assistance of telephones and computer networks. Doctors believe that telemedicine will revolutionize the future of medicine. For example, physicians will eventually be able to treat patients located hundreds of miles away. Imagine the impact this would have on people in third world countries! In addition, scientists are working to improve the field of minimally invasive surgery. Their final goal is to equip surgeons with surgical tools containing tiny video cameras. This will enable surgeons to cut small incisions in the body. Additionally, medical researchers are working to improve radiological machines like CAT scans and X rays. They plan to furnish these models with mathematical systems that produce comprehensive 3-D images of a patient's anatomy. “The 3-D image is then fused with the live video coming from the scope and serves as a road map to enable surgeons to quickly find areas of concern,” Dlesk stated. A company with the name BioControl Systems is also developing technology that will computerize electrical signals produced by the human nervous system. The BioMuse uses the body's electric activity to control and operate computers. By simply wearing a particular headband or armband, users will be able to modify objects on a screen with an eye-controlled mouse. Eventually, scientists intend to use this technology to map the movement of a surgeon's forearms onto remote computer-controlled instruments. Ultimately, medical researchers envision a doctor using a device, like an IPhone or tablet, to practice for surgery the next day (“Long Distance Medicine”). Therefore, telemedicine will transform the medical field in the next few years.
Regenerative medicine is changing the lives of athletes, cancer patients, and people in need of transplants. This up and coming speciality will allow future doctors to order functioning body parts for patients in need of replacements. Physicians hope to retrieve skin, bone, cartilage, and major organs such as hearts, kidneys, and livers. One company is already marketing living skin that can be grafted without the risk of rejection, while another company is looking to create replacement kneecaps for patients using their own cartilage cells. Lastly, doctors aim to grow heart valves using genetically modified protein. In other situations, a patient will receive a mass-produced body part that is precisely engineered not to trigger the body's tendency to reject foreign objects (“How Advances in Medical Technology Will Affect You”). Thus, regenerative medicine will eliminate extensive transplant waiting-lists.
Stem cells are another fascinating achievement. As thousands of signals and receptors stimulate and multiply, organization begins to occur. Stem cells separate themselves into specialized groups, like the brain, blood, heart, hair, eyes, and ears. Using stem cells, researchers expect to grow nerve cells that repair spinal cord injuries. In addition, medical scientists are experimenting with Gene Therapy. In the last few years, the United States government has funded projects to learn more about thousands of genes. Researchers have decoded more than 100,000 genes. From this study, researchers have learned that genetic defects kill thousands of people every year. Ideally, scientists want to dissect and correct these negative genes by infecting the patient with a specially engineered virus. This virus will rapidly infect cells with the updated gene (“How Advances in Medical Technology Will Affect You”). Therefore, Gene Therapy will end the spread of generational genetic defects.
In today's day and age, a robot is expected to perform tasks without supervision. One of the most effective robotic surgery systems is the da Vinci Surgical Robot. This robot has two arms that take the place of the surgeon's arms. They are supplied with surgical tools. While its third arm holds the endoscope, a fourth arm can actually be added to hold another surgical instrument if necessary. The da Vinci has a unique wrist that allows laparoscopic devices to manipulate the robot's actions. The surgeon adjusts the robot's laparoscopic movements by grasping devices called masters. The masters control motors in the robot's arms. Laparoscopic surgery will permit the patient to heal faster, unlike most incision surgeries. One limitation to this system is the signal time delay. The farther away the transmission source, the more time it will take for the signal to reach its intended destination. Unfortunately, others may interfere with the transmission by jamming the signals (“Robotic Surgery”). Thus, this advancement will authorize surgeons to perform more extensive and detailed surgeries.
Implantable, or embeddable technology addresses a class of objects that can be inserted directly into the human body to modify, enhance, or heal in ways that surgery cannot. According to a recent study, scientists have concluded that implantable technology will hit the market sometime in the future. Products like the Fitbit, Pebble smartwatch and Samsung Galaxy Gear are already a huge success, while pacemakers, bone prostheses, and silicone implants are also commonly used. "It will happen in three or four years time. We will just gently start integrating these things into our bodies,” said Piers Fawkes, founder of PSFK. Physicians will insert tiny implants in the body. Using a remote control, they will send a radio frequency signal releasing the proper medication. In addition, biohackers are an eager group of people driven by their passion for technology and willingness to experiment with their bodies. Biohackers enjoy augmenting or upgrading their bodies with technology that is already established. Last year, a device called Circadia was implanted into a member's arm. Circadia collects biometric data that is transmitted to a smartphone via Bluetooth. Biohackers constantly remind us of the dangers of experimental surgery, but also emphasize the importance of new ideas and daring actions (“Implantable Tech on the Horizon”). Therefore, new implantable devices are revolutionizing the way physicians collect data and perform surgeries.
While many physicians are incorporating these new advancements in their daily routines, others are stuck in the past. For instance, hundreds of doctors document patient records on paper charts, rather than computerized systems. According to a recent article in Health Affairs by Jeff Goldsmith of Health Futures Inc., only 17 percent of physicians in workplace situations have computerized patient records. Doctors that do not use computerized techniques face major problems regarding coordination access to confidential patient information. As a result, hospitals, pharmacies, and laboratories will not be able to view a patient's ongoing medical history. Ultimately, a broad-based computer system would enable medical records to be accessed by physicians and hospitals all over the world (“Info Technology Considered Prescription For Medical Errors”). Hence, it is important for doctors to embrace the new technology incorporated in the medical field.
In conclusion, medicine has evolved due to the increased amount of modern technology. These remarkable advancements have transformed basic medical practices and continue to alter the field of medicine everyday. Technology has changed the lives of both physicians and patients.
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