By placing a small sensor in the brain’s motor cortex, interfaces can pick up on electrical activity, and translate it into commands that control a robotic arm. Now scientists have gone a step further. Instead of a wired brain-arm link, they have now developed a wireless connection powerful enough to work at a distance of three feet.
“Clinical applications may include thought-controlled prostheses for severely neurologically impaired patients, wireless access to motorized wheelchairs or other assistive technologies, and diagnostic monitoring such as in epilepsy, where patients currently are tethered to the bedside during assessment,” says David Borton, at Brown University.
Lively is an in-home sensor network for connecting elderly loved ones to their families. The system combines a series of wireless sensors, a data-collection hub and biweekly printed mailers that serve as kind of an analog social network. The basic setup measures medication compliance, food and drink intake and general activity outside the home.
Lively is crowdfunding on Kickstarter, with a goal of $100,000.
Scientists studying longevity have begun using powerful genomic technologies, basic molecular research, and, most important, data on small, genetically isolated communities of people to gain increased insight into the maladies of old age and how they might be avoided.
AirStrip OB is a mobile patient monitoring solution for women in labor. The system, developed by San-Antonio-based AirStrip Technologies, captures vital patient waveform data, including fetal heart tracing and maternal contraction patterns, in “virtual real time” and sends it to a physician’s mobile device.
ReWalk is a commercial bionic walking assistance system, utilising powered leg attachments to enable paraplegics to stand upright, walk, and climb stairs. The system is powered by a backpack battery, and is controlled by a simple wrist-mounted remote which detects and enhances the user’s movements.
Using a proprietary patented shape discrimination hyperacuity (SDH) test, myVisionTrack enables patients to regularly assess their vision function. myVisionTrack stores test results, tracks disease progression and can automatically alert a healthcare provider if it suspects significant deterioration of visual function in the patient. Clinical studies demonstrate that myVisionTrack’s shape discrimination hyperacuity test has comparable or higher sensitivity and specificity compared to clinically available standard visual function tests for detecting advanced maculopathy from high-risk moderate maculopathy.
Hospital patients may no longer need to be hooked up to a tangle of wires, thanks to new technology developed by Fujitsu Ltd. The device enables cord-free monitoring through radio-wave transmission of electrocardiograms, blood pressure and other data from sensors attached to patients’ bodies.
A transmitter mounted on each sensor sends readings to a receiver adjacent to the bed, which will be connected to a dedicated monitor or personal computer. The data transmission utilizes the “medical body area network” (mBAN), a telecommunications standard for medical equipment. The radio waves only have a transmission range of 5 meters and do not interfere with pacemakers or other medical equipment, Fujitsu officials said.
A group of scientists at the University of Michigan have succeeded in using functional magnetic resonance imaging to tease apart the brain’s consistent response to physical pain from its very similar response to emotional pain. The result is a moving picture of physical pain that allowed the researchers to predict with remarkable accuracy whether the individual whose brain they were watching was experiencing intense physical pain, the sensation of a warm spot on his arm, or the sting of social rejection.
The study – known as the Developing Human Connectome Project – hopes to look at more than 1,500 babies, studying many aspects of their neurological development.
By examining the brains of babies while they are still growing in the womb, as well as those born prematurely and at full term, the scientists will try to define baselines of normal development and investigate how these may be affected by problems around birth.
Central to this project are advanced MRI scanning techniques, which the scientists say are able to pick up on details of the growing brain that have been difficult to capture until now.
The Obama administration introduced the ACA in 2010 to move health care away from a fee-for-service model to one that promotes preventative care and overall wellness. Beginning this October the ACA will reinforce this approach by penalizing hospitals with chronic readmission problems by cutting Medicare reimbursement payments to those facilities. This policy initially targets patients suffering from three health conditions—heart failure, pneumonia and heart attack—but penalties will apply to additional conditions beginning in 2015.
Remote health monitoring systems have patients wear sensors that wirelessly collect, store, analyze and transmit health-related data. One of several approaches is the Wearable Wellness System from Italy’s Smartex, essentially an undershirt with embedded sensors and a processor that can monitor heart and respiration rates. Although not as fashionable, the Metria wearable sensor, from Vancive Medical Technologies, a medical division of Avery Dennison, can be adhesively bound to the body to measure heart rate, respiration, sleep duration and activity levels.