As much as we lament how fast things change in the tech world, there is an upside when it comes to treating diseases and chronic conditions. Here are some of the coolest new devices showing how impressive it can be when technology and medicine intersect.
Getting a Foothold on Diabetes. The body’s extremities are most vulnerable to the effects of diabetes – especially the feet. If improperly treated, peripheral nerves and blood vessels can become damaged, causing ulcers, which can become infected and sometimes result in amputations, if not death. Siren© has developed high-tech socks with embedded sensors woven into the company’s Neurofabric™. These sensors continuously monitor the temperature at the bottom of the feet, which can be an indicator that the body is fighting an infection. Measurements are sent to the person’s smart phone, which alerts Siren’s customer service department that then calls or texts the user.
Seeing for the Blind. Created by AT&T, Aira glasses are a lifesaver. When a seeing-impaired person puts on these glasses, they’re connected to agents via microphone who see what the user sees in real time, so they talk them through what’s around them. These agents become visual interpreters, aka “seeing-eye people” and help users accomplish a wide range of daily tasks –everything from crossing busy streets to recognizing faces to traveling the world.
Treating Cancer with Robots. No, it’s not science fiction. The CyberKnife System® is very real. As the only fully robotic radiation delivery system, this miraculous surgical aid uses real-time imaging to deliver a maximum dose of radiation directly to the tumor from many different angles with sub-millimeter precision. It does this by tracking and adjusting for tumor or patient movement during the treatment, which minimizes radiation to healthy organs and tissues.
Scratching the Spread of Infection. Moms the world over have warned against scratching after a bug bite. This advice has some truth and relevance: Recent studies have found a direct connection between scratching, inflammation and the rapid replication of infections. Given the rise of mosquito-borne viruses like zika, dengue and malaria that are making their way into the United States, you’ll want to check out Bite Helper™. This ingenious device neutralizes the itch and irritation of insect bites with Thermo-Pulse Technology™, which delivers heat and vibration to the bite area. This increases blood flow and circulation, relieving the itch and desire to scratch, potentially containing the spread of the disease.
Rehabbing After a Stroke. Upon first glance, the Rapael Neofect© smart glove looks like a robot skeleton from the Lego movie. However, this incredible invention uses a variety of sensors to guide a stroke victim’s rehabilitation for hand and wrist injuries. Using wireless technology, the glove connects to the Rapael app you install on a computer, which guides a patient through repetitive movements to engage specific muscles and tendons. But here’s the thing: it makes the work less tedious and, in some cases, fun. The app projects games involving exercises that are actually everyday tasks like chopping vegetables, pouring a glass of wine or even throwing darts. The secret? Data from the sensors feed through a software algorithm that customizes the game play for the patient's needs, similar to the way Netflix's algorithm customizes a viewer's TV show and movie recommendations.