Medicine in human culture has come a long way. Way back when, doctors used to prescribe bizarre and harmful treatments. Holes in the skull, drinking mercury, even smoking. But fast forward to the 21st century and you’ll see that we’re doing things much, much better.
Of course, this seems like a pretty redundant point to make. So we used to do things in bizarre ways in the past – news flash! Our ancestors weren’t as smart as they thought they were. Tell us something we don’t already know, right? Well, you may be underestimating just how far we’re coming along in medicine. Technologies that were once written about in science fiction are now becoming realities.
As you read the following list, I want you to consider it not only in the context of the medical advantages it has for people. You should also be thinking about the way these things highlight the importance of medical funding. (Which, of course, is just a more pragmatic way of thinking about medical advantages.) If you’ve ever doubted the importance of medical funding in the past, this list will surely change your mind. Take some moments to think about the things that the government is willing to pour money into that isn’t this wonderful field.
Bionics is the application of biological behavior to modern technological design. We’ve been making great advances in bionics (biological electronics) for a long time. For example, ultrasounds were created by imitating the echolocation techniques of bats and dolphins. But it may surprise you to know just how much biology and electronics are merging these days.
Behold: prosthetic, robotic limbs that are controlled by the power of thought. People often picture prosthetic limbs are things that are unmoving and feel unnatural to the touch. This isn’t an entirely accurate depiction of what regular prosthetics are like. But they still stand in stark contrast to these advances. These modern prosthetics are not only able to move; they can flex and, more importantly, feel.
The brain communicates to various parts of your body using impulses that can be sensed and manipulated by technology. Well, these prosthetics can do just that. Well, these prosthetics can do just that. They can respond to these detected brain impulses and move in the way someone’s brain wants them to move. They can even send signals back up the brain, thus taking sensory feedback and translating it to the mind. In more simple language, this means that when the prosthetic touches something, the person can actually feel that touch.
No, this doesn’t refer to medical programs on television. Telemedicine refers to the several ways in which we are getting medical assistance to those unable to leave a particular area. This generally takes place in the form of HIPAA-Compliant Video Conferencing. It makes two-way, real-time interaction available to people who can’t leave their homes.
You’re right in thinking that people who are wheelchair-bound or bed-bound will benefit most. A sad paradox: A disabled person is more likely that any of us to need medical assistance, but they’re among the least likely to be able to get it. But with telemedicine, they can receive a consultation without arranging expensive or painful transportation.
But there are other benefits to consider here. Telemedicine also provides a solution to many economic problems in the field of medicine. While the technology itself sounds expensive, the hardware that is required is already in most offices and homes. Telemedicine reduces the amount of time someone has to spend away from work and can reduce the need to use surgery utilities. So from a cost-saving perspective, it’s also brilliant.
Remote monitoring and wearable sensors
We often link the monitoring of someone in their home with Orwellian surveillance nightmares. But someone who is suffering from a severe medical condition can benefit from tracking on their biological functions.
I’m not talking about the installation of cameras in someone’s home, here. Let’s take something like a pacemaker. We now have technology that will allow a pacemaker to transmit signals to a computer safely. If a cardiac problem arises within a patient wearing a pacemaker, a doctor can be alerted via those signals. The patient can be contacted and, potentially, help can arrive before any serious damage occurs. So, yes, it is almost like a Bat-signal for medical issues.
Advances are even being made in the tracking of someone’s skin. There are “smart bandages” that can be applied to any wound that can use skin pH levels to tell if infection is taking place. While prototypes of these have been in use since 2003, they are now much more affordable and effective. And with the rise of Internet communication, they are more useful than ever