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Top 10 healthcare innovations

Tagged In:  Allied Health

There aren't that many people who can say they've changed the world... But that's the goal for the pioneering techies who are thinking up brilliant new solutions to global healthcare challenges. Here's our top 10 innovative technologies that are already transforming healthcare or are set to do so in the not-so-distant future...

1. Nanobots

It seems the '60s sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage wasn't so far-fetched after all. OK, so we may not be quite ready to shrink scientists and send them into a person's body in a tiny submarine. However, nanobots could soon be doing pretty much the same thing. These miniature robots would be injected into the bloodstream to deliver chemotherapy and other treatments much more potently than drugs and with fewer side effects.

2. Robotic Surgery Simulator (RoSS)

This 'flight simulator for surgeons' was developed in 2010 at the USA's Roswell Park Cancer Institute and is now being produced in numbers for use across the country. “Until RoSS, surgeons did not have sufficient opportunities outside of the operating room to gain extensive training in robotic techniques,” says co-inventor Dr Khurshid A. Guru.

3. Isobar mobile fridge

Isobar is a portable cooling system for temperature-sensitive vaccines which could help prevent life-threatening diseases in developing countries. It won a prestigious James Dyson Award for its inventor, 22-year-old British industrial design and technology student William Broadway.

4. Leadless pacemakers

In April the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first pacemaker that does away with wired leads, which can sometimes malfunction or cause infection. The device is implanted directly into the heart's right ventricle chamber.

5. SpaceOAR

A major step forward in prostate cancer treatment, SpaceOAR (Spacing Organs at Risk) is a hydrogel that temporarily creates a barrier around the prostate during high-dose radiation therapy, lessening collateral damage to the rectum and bladder.

6. Robotic nursing care assistant

Back problems from lifting patients could soon be a thing of the past for nurses. Japan's RIKEN-TRI Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research has developed a prototype nursing care assistant robot called RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance). With strong human-like arms, it's the first robot that can lift up or set down a patient from or into a bed or wheelchair.

7. Nano Retina

Israeli company Nano Retina is developing an innovative device that uses advanced nanotechnology to restore functional vision to blind people who suffer from retinal degenerative disease.

8. Smart pills

Many patients with long-term conditions fail to take their medication as prescribed. Now American company Proteus Digital Health has developed sensor technology that's so small it can be combined with a pill and swallowed. When the pill dissolves, the sensor is activated and transmits data to a wearable patch and a smartphone app, showing how well a patient is adhering to their drug regime.

9. Indigo-Clean

When it comes to infection control, hospitals may soon be seeing the light. Easily installed in any room, Indigo-Clean uses visible light to safely, automatically and continuously kill harmful bacteria, 24/7, in the air and on hard and soft surfaces.

10. Smart e-pants

They may sound like the latest kinky kit for fetishists, but electronic underpants are actually a serious healthcare innovation. Designed to prevent bedsores, they deliver an electrical current to stimulate the wearer's muscles and increase blood circulation.
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