Healthcare of the Future

Here is a series of articles that I have come across in recent weeks and felt they all had some similarity between them so I decided to put them all together in one big post. They all have something to do with human healthcare to an extent, mostly new and radical technology that could potentially dominate our future.

 

http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/15/watch-doctors-successfully-3d-print-a-knee-joint/

 

I think this is pretty amazing as I am sure one day in the future I will be signed up for a new one of these. I have had multiple knee surgeries and I for one am very excited about what the future will hold for technology like this. Imagine a world where you can get a joint replaced in a manner like this. Today a knee replacement is a very invasive surgery and can take months if not a year to get back to full strength if ever. Now I realize that most of the individuals that are getting these surgeries are older and it will take them longer to heal no matter  what. I look at this as preventative maintenance. I am not an orthopedic surgeon but I think that the wearing down of the cartilage and meniscus in your knee can cause major problems down the road, such as arthritis. So if somewhere mid life you and replace the meniscus or somehow cushion the knee more you could drastically add more active years to your life. I hate any sort of surgery or needles but, as someone who will more than likely have to have a knee replacement at some point in my life I am always looking at the new technology when it comes to the knee. The other amazing thing is that this was printed with 3D printer, that is pretty cool as well. I wonder if in the future custom body parts will be the norm, that incorporate your own DNA and cells so your body will not reject them. I think this process could be just the beginning.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jan/07/augmented-humans-robotics-exoskeletons-paraplegics?curator=MediaREDEF

 

This article I think is almost straight out of some science fiction novel or movie, but obviously not as it is real and there is a video to prove it. How many sifi books have you read where the soldiers wear some sort of mechanical suit that gives the wearer strength and makes them near invincible? It appears the technology is finally here to an extent. After reading the article it does not appear that the technology it totally practical, at least not yet. The amazing thing is that this could just be the beginning. If you read the article the military is very interested in this for obvious reasons, but there are so many other applications for it in the civilian world.  This could be a huge step giving those who have lost the ability to walk a new lease on life, not to mention it could also help soldiers who have been injured return to active duty. I still think this exoskeleton is 10 or more years away for real world application, but still it is exciting to see how close we are.

 

http://io9.com/10-diseases-that-might-afflict-us-in-the-future-1666688319

 

This next article is just kind of fun to think about and what all this new technology could do good or bad for us. I don’t think people often think about what will happen in the future in terms of healthcare in the sense of the technology mentioned in the article. In the sifi world it is usually one of two things usually dominate, either we have cracked our genetic code and we can manipulate genes at will making ourselves genetically perfect in every way. Or there is the other side that we will use machines or any number of implants or devices to help out where nature is lagging behind. I think the above article focuses more on the mechanical side of this argument, which as you can see we could be opening a whole new can or worms down the road.

I think that if we are able to reach one of the above scenarios it will likely be a combination of both. We will eventually crack our genetic code but I also think we will have any number of implants and mechanical body parts to assist where needed. A lot of the article has to do with some form of virtual reality or uploading our consciousness into a computer and the dangers of doing such things. Some are farfetched, but I think there will be a very real time in the future where VR technology is real and intern highly addictive. I would liken it to the same as video games these days, which everyone knows a friend or two that is obsessed with a game to the point where they spend countless of hours playing. What is to stop a person from spending the large majority of their life in a simulation where they are important or famous. If that is the case why would you come back to the real world where you stare at a computer screen in a cubical all day? Many of the scenarios do raise some interesting questions about the melding of humans and our technology.

 

http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/01/antibiotic-failure-will-cost-10-million-lives-annualy-2050

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11331174/First-new-antibiotic-in-30-years-discovered-in-major-breakthrough.html

 

These last two articles I found a few days apart and the fact that I found them almost back to back left me with laughing quietly to myself. The first one spells out our impending doom because of our overuse of antibiotics. I have been hearing about this for a while and has become a very alarming concern. Our overuse of antibiotics, not only on ourselves but in our livestock, has enabled bacteria and other pathogens to develop a very strong resistance to them. As you can imagine this does not bode well for us as down the road a simple infection could have the potential to be deadly. I often find myself laughing at people in my office that at the slightest sign of a sniffle, go to the doctor to get an antibiotic, never letting their immune system fight the pathogen on its own. I on the other hand am on the other end of the spectrum. I never go to the doctor, mainly because I am stubborn and hate going, but that can also be just as bad as it could be something serious and delaying a doctor’s visit could put me in a worse situation. Hey but at least I let my immune system beat some ass first!

Anyways, If you have already washed our hands twice since reading the last paragraph quietly return to your seat and relax. Fear not as the second article talks about how scientist have found the first new antibiotic in over 30 years. WOW! How crazy is that? On one hand that is amazing on the other what the hell have scientist doing for the past 30 years? The article does state that it is very difficult to develop these antibiotics, but still 30 years! I liken this to how back in the day when computer first started taking off and used vacuum tubes. Eventually scientist thought that the computer was doomed because the vacuum tube was obsolete technology and they were running out of ways to make them better. But when push became shove someone invented the transistor and the microprocessor. I believe something similar happened here. We are running out of ideas and needed something new to help fight diseases that pushed scientist to think outside the box. If you read that article you will see that a whole new technique was developed to get this new antibiotic.

I know there is a ton of information in this post but nonetheless it is all pretty cool. I cannot imagine what the future holds for healthcare, my only wish is that I can hang on long enough to reap the benefits of the future and intern extend the good years of my or anyone’s life. I think that is the ultimate goal, extend the years you are able to get around and just live for a little bit longer. I guess the real question will be how much longer can that little bit longer get…

Manik

 

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