Mechatronics: How Electrical Engineers Are Impacting Health Care

Electrical engineers are professionals dedicated to developing electrical solutions and equipment. They are responsible for providing a variety of industries with powerful, long-term solutions, designed to help solve many types of problems. One of the most prominent industries to benefit from the aid of electric engineering is the field of medicine. With more intelligent innovations regularly being made, doctors and medical professionals are able to work with stronger and more reliable medical equipment, helping their patients in ways never thought possible before. Since the 1950s, there have been numerous contributions made by skilled electrical engineers to the field of medicine. Many medical professionals believe that even further advancements can be made, helping revolutionize the field and providing patients with more extensive medical care options for their illnesses.

Mechatronics and Health Care

Major Milestones

Engineers have always collaborated with doctors to some degree, and, as time went on, their contributions have become more and more defining. In 1958, engineers helped develop the first portable pacemaker, designed specifically for external wear, helping improve mobility for those who suffer from heart conditions. Later, in 1960, engineers helped develop an implanted pacemaker, which helped extend the life of ten dying patients during the first clinical use. Two years later, John Charnley developed a low friction, high-density cement for hip transplants. In the 1980s, slow release drug systems were invented, helping revolutionize chemotherapy and providing cancer patients with an easier way to fight against the disease. In 1983, 3D printing was developed, which would help further revolutionize advancements in all fields of medicine.

Overall Trends

All electrical developments are geared towards providing medical solutions with a more reliable degree of miniaturization. This means that these advancements are made with portability and ease of use in mind. Microsensors, software developments, and wireless access are all at the forefront of developments, ensuring that patients are never too far from the aid that they need. These advancements also help improve surgical developments and ensure a speedy recovery. With automatic delivery systems developed as well, patients now have a much easier and more efficient way to get the medicine they need on a microscopic level.

Hospitals and Wireless Mechatronics

Hospitals currently stay up to date with engineering developments in order to strengthen the way they communicate with their patients and with each other. Over 86% of all hospitals use cell phones, 83% use mobile workstations, and 82% use PDAs and tablets. These devices make communications much more efficient because they help reduce internal and external interference between groups. Vital sign monitors are made even more efficient with the inclusion of such technology because doctors can stay on top of their patients’ needs as regularly as possible.

Current Solutions

Current technological solutions have already come a long way since their first developmental roots. With advancements in robotics, surgeons can use a remove surgery system, with mechanized robotic arms that perform all of the tasks, making incisions and following the surgeon’s movements. Defibrillator units can also help monitor patients, keeping track of heart rates through wireless signals with a connection between the implanted device and an offsite monitor. Doctors may also use disposable X rays now, which are endoscopic cameras inserted into capsules for easy access to the patient’s internal systems, without worrying about disposal.

Direct Contributions Made by Engineers

Outside of medical changes made by doctors and surgeons, engineers can help contribute directly to the field through their own specialized inventions. Engineers are regularly constructing high-powered prostheses, artificial limbs that can provide distinct electronic advantages. Slowly, advancements are reaching the point where these devices can function almost as well as the original limb. There are numerous brain implants and devices available as well, designed to help provide patients with a better way to retain and restore mental functions. These implants can help control the prostheses, and provide their own advantages for those who need them most.

Future Developments

In addition to existing technological advancements, engineers are always striving to improve the field with further developments. One of the most frequently discussed advancements is the improvement of 3D printing systems, allowing them to be expanded for use in a variety of medical fields, such as dentistry. Ultimately, the goal is to create 3D human organs that can be used seamlessly by the body. Smart pants are another projected development, which will deliver a small, electrical pulse through the body to help stimulate circulation and blood flow. This will help reduce as many as 60,000 annual deaths related to bedsores and poor circulation.

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