The market for new fitness and wellness gadgets is rapidly expanding and promising the best of everything. From mapping your heart rate to telling you how much more you need to run, know all with just a click.
In January, on a flight from Dulles to San Diego, US-based Dr Eric Topol, the chief academic officer of Scripps Health, used his iPhone to quickly diagnose that a passenger was suffering from chest pains and having a heart attack. The airplane made an emergency landing allowing the man’s life to be saved. All he did was clip-on smartphone electrocardiogram (ECG) reader made by Qualcomm-funded AliveCor. But that is not a one-off incident.
New medical gadgets are taking over the healthcare industry and saving time, money and most importantly human lives. They have become an extension of our hands,
relentlessly connecting us with our inner well-being. All they need is a little power and rest assured they will discreetly do their magic.
According to recent figures released by the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian healthcare industry is expected to reach $280 billion by 2020, on the back of
increasing demand for specialised and quality healthcare facilities. Dr Arun Prasad, Senior Consultant, Minimal Access Surgery (Robotics), says, “The Indian healthcare sector is moving at a fast pace giving us an opportunity to offer wide plethora of services. The latest techniques in minimal invasive surgeries are offered by robotic surgery and the da Vinci Si is the latest in robotic surgery technology.” Prasad adds that there are also several do-it-yourselves gadgets available in the market especially for indentifying heart attacks, blood pressure or diabetes.
Dr Anup Dhir, senior consultant, plastic and cosmetic surgeon, at Delhi’s Indraprastha Apollo Hospital says, “Rising dollar cost and high duty structure have been the major deterrents in the introduction of new medical gadgets in the country. But things are looking up now with hospitals adopting newer techniques and machinery.” He adds that Celution System for separating regenerative cells from fat, ultrasonic liposuction used for liposuction of difficult areas and robotic hair transplantation for faster hair transplantation are the newest techniques introduced in his specialisation.
As the need to be informed augments the yearning for wellbeing, the young and the restless are leaving no stone unturned to try new techniques. What with watches, earphones, baby monitors, health chips and smartphones, a healthy lifestyle is on our tips and just a click away.
Novalis Tx is a lifesaving radiation therapy that minimises or prevents collateral damage. It provides a full range of radiotherapy, including IMRT, IGRT, stereotactic radiotherapy and stereotactic radio surgery. The state-of-the-art machine has the ability to perform scans while patients are undergoing radiotherapy, thereby assuring preciseness and accuracy of treatment that takes into account any change in the patient’s position or the size and location of the tumour. It helps patients to receive accurate and quick treatment ensuring better outcomes and warrants a more comfortable patient care.
da Vinci Si HD System
The latest technology in the field of robotic surgery is the da Vinci Si HD System. It is an effective, least invasive surgical treatment and its ergonomic design permits the surgeon to operate from a seated position at the console, eyes and hands positioned in line with the instruments. To move the instruments or the camera, the surgeon simply moves his or her hands.
In an interesting discovery, the University of Florida, US, has come up with the Antenna Pill—a capsule that has a dose of your medicine at one end and a tiny radio microchip at the other. You simply have to swallow the pill and the non-toxic chip transmits a signal to a monitor around your neck. It will eventually be built in to mobile phones or a wristwatch so doctors and family members can tell when you’ve had your medicine. The Antenna Pill is currently at the prototype stage.
InnerCool RTx Endovascular System
Good news for brain surgeons. Instead of using the old-fashioned ice packs and blankets in the operation theatre, Philips InnerCool RTx system cools patients from the inside using a catheter with temperature sensor, which is placed next to the femoral artery below the heart. The device works a bit like a heat exchanger, reducing body heat by transferring it to a cooling cart using a saline solution. Doctors can now keep their patients conscious and responsive while they work on them.
The Olympus VisiGlide is a specialised kind of instrument designed to make access to the pancreatic and bile ducts easier. Measuring just 0.025 inches in diameter, it’s made from a kink-resistant super elastic alloy and covered with a hydrophilic coating, which makes it easier to move around.
The dream-machine has finally arrived. The instrument targets bits of the body with highly focused beams of radiation, doing away with scalpels and drills. Its non-invasive technique helps patients recover quickly from the effects of surgery than the other more old-fashioned kind.
The Siemens SOMATOM Definition Flash CT scanner can find out what’s wrong with your heart in less than half a heartbeat. It uses a very low dose of radiation to image your heart—and you don’t even need to be taking beta blockers or hold your breath while it works. In fact the scanner can image your whole chest region in less than 0.6 seconds.
This unique device helps blind patient successfully read words. It has been developed by researchers at the company Second Sight, and uses a small camera on a pair of glasses, along with a portable processor and a microchip which transfers information to the retina via implanted electrodes. The device is mainly targeted to treat people who are victims of retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
One Breath: Portable Ventilator
Invented by Matthew Callaghan, a postdoctoral fellow in Stanford University’s biodesign programme, the device costs just a fraction of the price of a low-end conventional ventilator and runs on a 12-volt battery for six to 12 hours at a time.
As an air compressor forces air into the chest, the sensor, connected to a tube inserted into the mouth, measures the airway pressure. Software uses the pressure sensor’s data to calculate the volume of breath in the lungs. This allows the ventilator to sense when the patient needs to take another breath, at which point the software directs the compressor to supply the air through a valve system. If the patient is beginning to be able to breathe on his own, the software instructs the compressor to supply less air, a feature that helps recovering patients gradually begin to breathe independently again.
Fibroscan is a new device that assesses liver fibrosis non-invasively, unlike a liver biopsy that is invasive and painful. The machine uses a probe, similar to an ultrasound probe, which is kept on the right lower chest wall of the patient. Just by pressing a button, the ultrasound probe sends a shear wave into the liver and detects the stiffness of the liver. This data is automatically processed by the on-board computer and the liver stiffness is displayed on the screen. Ten such readings are recorded. It gives an idea of the extent of damage to the liver. In patients with metabolic disorder like fatty liver and alcoholic liver disease, it serves as next best to biopsy as it is completely safe and non-invasive.
A Massachusetts-based company, MicroCHIPS Inc., has licensed the device and funded the study which invented a remote controlled medication delivery via chip implant. This is especially useful for women with severe bone-thinning osteoporosis, a condition that requires patients to frequently administer shots of medication. Tests on women in Denmark have already proved its mettle.
Functional Contact Lens
We’ve heard of experimental contact lenses that can non-invasively monitor the blood sugar levels of diabetes sufferers before, but where prior research relied on chemical reactions inducing color-change in the lens, new joint research by the University of Washington and Microsoft Research aims to incorporate electronics into such lenses to report blood sugar levels wirelessly. Though the Functional Contact Lens aspires to be a more advanced means of reporting than mere common change, the means of detection also differs from previous research.
Personal Mobile Vehicle
Researchers from Japan have unveiled a new style of personal mobile vehicle called the Permoveh that will allow users to move in sideways as well as forward and backward directions. The new vehicle has been named Permoveh, short for ‘Personal Mobile Vehicle’ and is equipped with four omni-directional drive wheels, each equipped with 32 rollers similar to those for roller skates along the sides of each wheel. The consumer can use the rollers to move sideways and wheels to move
backwards and forwards, with a maximum speed of six kmph. The researchers are now working on making the vehicle lighter and cheaper as it currently costs around ¥ 3 million or $36,000. The Permoveh is expected to arrive in stores in around three to five years time. Price: $36,000
Four neuroscientists from MIT have used their knowledge of how stress affects the body to create a prototype wrist watch that uses sensors to monitor people’s autonomic nervous system (perspirations, respiration and heart rate) and their movements to determine if the wearer is in ‘stress mode’. When Bandu detects bodily stress, it will flash a message that reminds the wearer to slow down and take a break, suggesting actions that can help such as ‘play a song’ or ‘take five deep breaths’. This can be personalised so that instead of the pre-set messages, Bandu will play a song or display a message of your choice. The information is recorded onto an accompanying app, so that over time Bandu will figure out which de-stress techniques work best for you.