In an agreement with the US Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation (VACI), Israeli 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) is installing 3D printers in five Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals around the nation. The 3D printers will be used to help plan surgical operations, train medical students, and produce functional prosthesis for patients in need.
The project is part of Stratasys’ Corporate Social Responsibility that “is aimed at ingraining the power of 3D printing across young minds, bringing transformative medical and educational programs to underprivileged communities, and creating life-changing impacts for the people who need it most.”
Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The year 2016 presented the world with a number of big surprises. Some positive, some negative, depending on whom one asks. Here at Medgadget, 2016 will be remembered for many amazing and pleasantly unexpected medical technology developments, many of which are foreshadowing cures for spinal cord injuries, effective treatment of diabetes, new ways to fight heart disease, and many other long sought-after medical solutions. Virtual and augmented reality systems, new imaging techniques, and innovative delivery approaches are changing the way doctors learn and take care of patients.
Looking back on the past year, we selected what we felt to be the most important, innovative, and surprising medical technology developments. They naturally fell into a few categories. Here we share with you Medgadget‘s choices of Best Medical Technologies of 2016.
Scientists are developing dust-sized wireless sensors implanted inside the body to track neural activity in real-time, offering a potential new way to monitor or treat a range of conditions including epilepsy and control next-generation prosthetics.
The tiny devices have been demonstrated successfully in rats, and could be tested in people within two years, the researchers said.
“You can almost think of it as sort of an internal, deep-tissue Fitbit, where you would be collecting a lot of data that today we think of as hard to access,” said Michel Maharbiz, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.
Fitbit Inc sells wearable fitness devices that measure data including heart rate, quality of sleep, number of steps walked and stairs climbed, and more.
Use of 3D-printed prosthetics may not yet be routine, but orthopedic laboratories and surgical suites across central Ohio are already using the technology for precision, savings and better patient outcomes.
Orthopedic surgeons can now offer longer-lasting ankles, knees, hips and cranial repairs by using imaging to produce full-scale 3D models of a patient’s bone structure and then rehearsing the precise incisions, pins and grids to support the repair and healing process. It not only saves time in the operating room, but also provides better fit and destroys less of the patient’s existing bone.
Ohio State University and foot and ankle specialists at OhioHealth are forging ahead with 3D printing, training and education. They are part of medical 3D printing growth of 20-25 percent a year, while 3D printing overall is projected to grow from about $7 billion this year to $17 billion in 2020, according to consulting firm A.T. Kearney.
Losing a limb is devastating. The most common way to address the loss is a prosthetic, which attempts to at least give the wearer some of the dexterity back they’ve lost. Early on, these fake limbs could not do much, but as technology has evolved, so have prosthetics.
These days, we’re amazed at what people are coming up with. We’ve seen prosthetics with built-in drones, ones that will make you feel (and look) like a superhero, and even one that allowed an artist to tattoo with it. Check out some of the favorites that we’ve covered recently here on DigitalTrends. You might become a bit jealous.
The next generation in prosthetic arms will soon be helping amputees get a grip in the real world. The LUKE arm, which was previously known as the Deka Arm, was developed under DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics program by DEKA Research & Development Corp. It received marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014 and is now set to hit the market later this year.
As we’ve reported previously, the DEKA arm is the first prosthetic arm set approved for commercial markets that translates signals from a patient’s muscles into complex motions. Rechristened the LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) arm by medical device maker Mobius Bionics, which will bring it to market with Universal Instruments Corporation as contract manufacturer, the prosthetic will be the first in a new product category for integrated prosthetic arms.
The technology behind 3D printing has been around for decades, but desktop 3D printers have only recently become affordable enough to stand on our desks and manufacture physical objects for us, on-demand. Now desktop 3D printers are entering physician offices everywhere, poised to revolutionize the future of medicine. 3D printing has already been used to print drugs, medical devices, patient-specific anatomy, and even biological tissues. Physicians and surgeons are beginning to take advantage of this fast and completely personalized manufacturing technology to improve patient care. Here are just 10 exciting examples of how 3D printing is used in medicine today.