Researchers from the University of Connecticut and UCLA have developed a novel bio-friendly energy storage system. It is called supercapacitor and it operates using charged ions or particles from fluids present in a human body. This device, as per researchers, will pose no threat to the body’s biological systems, and it could results in longer-lasting pacemakers for cardiac patients and other implantable medical devices.
The team of researchers from UCLA was led by Richard Kaner, who is a distinguished professor of material science and engineering, and chemistry and biochemistry. The team from Connecticut on the other hand was led by James Rusling, who is a professor of cell biology and chemistry. The paper on their novel design was published earlier this week in the journal of Advanced Energy Materials.
What is the Inspiration behind the Research?
Implantable devices such as pacemakers, which help in regulating abnormal heart rhythms and others have provided a new lease of life to millions around the world over the last few years. However, a majority of these devices are powered using traditional batteries, which eventually give up on running out power and are replaced, which means another painful surgery for the patient, besides the associated risk of infection. Moreover, these batteries contain toxic material, which could endanger a patient’s life if it leaks.
Alternate Method of Generating Energy from Human Body Proposed by Researchers
The researchers therefore proposed an alternate method of enabling these devices get the required energy. The supercapacitors invested by them are charged using electrolytes, which are collected from biological fluids such as urine and blood serum. These capacitors will also work with an energy harvester, which will convert heat and motion generated from a human body into electricity. Combining supercapacitors with energy harvesters will provide endless power to keep an implantable device running for a lifetime. With the novel technology, the need to replace implantable device will perhaps get eliminated in the future.
Geko, a neuromuscular electro-stimulation medical device, much like a watch has become a game changer for all those people lying on hospital beds with ankle fractures, waiting for the swelling to reduce so that doctors can perform a surgery. Geko sticks to the plaster cast, above a patient’s leg and causes muscles to contract, helping in reducing the swelling by increasing the blood circulation.
Sky Medical Technology Wins Medilink North West Healthcare Business Award
Although Geko is commonly used for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis, experts at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital have recognized the potential of this device to help patients waiting endlessly for swelling to reduce in order to be operated. This not only saves time but also expenses of lying on hospital beds. The experts at James Cook initially experimented by teaming up with Sky Medical Technology and studied 20 patients, who were happy to wear the Geko and experience a reduction in swelling within 24 hours. Medilink North West Healthcare Business Award has been awarded to Sky Medical Technology for their fruitful partnership working with the NHS.
Detailed Research on Geko could Help Treatment of Future Patients
Paul Baker, an orthopedic surgeon is planning on carrying out an extensive research on this device to be able to benefit many future patients. Geko has brought relief to many patients with ankle fractures by eliminating the need to stay in hospitals for weeks, getting frustrated, and also losing muscle mass. Senior sister Stacey Brown stated that the results have been remarkable and patients have responded to this device quite well.
The uses and applications of robotics in the medical industry have significantly increased in the past few years and a number of innovative products in this area are making inroads, at least on experimental basis, in the global market. In a recent development, the famed Japanese carmaker Toyota has announced that it has designed a robotic leg, named Welwalk WW-1000, to help disabled people walk. The device has a mechanical frame, which fits the patient’s leg below the knee. The patients can practice to walk with the help of a special treadmill with the robotic leg.
The new device was demonstrated by the company in its Tokyo headquarters the previous week. Scientists at the country’s Fujita Health University helped Toyota design the robotic leg. The device is to be fitted on one leg of patients who are suffering from paralysis on one side of the body due to a disease or a stroke.
An Intelligent System
The device is attached to patient’s thigh, ankle, and knee using a strap and uses a motor to help bend and straighten patient’s knee. Sensors in the device provide real-time data about what is happening and the medical staff can control the system through a remote screen. Designers of the device state that the action helps barely enough, which is a good thing as too much of help can slow down the recovery for patients.
This device could help common paralysis caused due to health issues such as strokes that can happen to geriatrics. As Japan’s population increasingly ages, with around 26% of the country’s population over the age of 65 in 2015, this device could witness high demand after it hits the market. Toyota expects that the device will be seen in medical centers in the country through a rental program by the end of this year.