Implantable Bionics of the Future

 
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Implantable devices will collect physiological monitoring and other data in the personalised health systems of the future. There are a number of wearable and non-invasive telehealth devices in current use that are increasingly being used for the unsupervised management of patients suffering chronic disease.

In the near future there will also be wearable technologies for automatic detection and prevention of falls. However all these technologies suffer from both user induced artefact and compliance issues. Assuming we can make sensors and support electronics small enough by implanting such devices these issues will disappear. Such sensing could also be integrated into existing therapeutic and diagnostic implants (such as pacemakers, defibrillators, sensory neuroprostheses, insulin delivery systems) to provide said functionality.

A simple example would be incorporating triaxial accelerometry into a cardiac pacemaker or into a dedicated implant so if a person experiences a fall or a long-lie scenario, emergency services could automatically be contacted.

Future Developments

Apart from the obvious ethical issues associated with invasive monitoring, there are three critical technology issues that must be addressed for this vision to become a reality. These are;

1. Power: the need for a small and long-lasting implanted power source or efficient transcutaneous power delivery, possibly augmented or based on power scavenging technologies in situ.

2. Telemetry: the need for efficient data transmission from the implanted device to an external data gathering point.

3. Sensing: the need for new, biocompatible sensing technologies that transduces physiological and other values in a stable and accurate manner.

References

Lovell, N.H., Morley, J.W., Chen, S.C., Hallum, L.E., G.J. Suaning, G.J. (2010). Biological-machine systems integration: engineering the neural interface, Proc. IEEE, 98:3, 418-431.
Shany, T., Redmond, S.J., Narayanan, M., Lovell, N.H. (2012). Sensors-based wearable systems for monitoring of human movement and falls, IEEE Sensors Journal, 12(3), 658-670.

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Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, University of New South Wales.
 

6 Responses to “Implantable Bionics of the Future”

  1. First of all I want to say that such devices would be a good idea. It would be able to prevent some people of death or from suffering pain (lying on the floor with injuries and no help is available).

    However I’m not sure if the acceptability is high enough to become this vision reality. The idea to combine this device with existing implantable devices will become more agreement than developing devices only for prevention of falls. In my mind the implant of such devices will be more effort and risk than the use of this devices. But if the patient needs an implant anyway he will on the one hand have advantages of more functionality of the device but on the other hand the device will need more power and the lifetime will decrease.

    What you mentioned about the Telemetry I think there is no problem of data transmission yet. There are already technologies available for extracting data of implantable devices. Some telemedicine technologies would be useful for this issue.

     
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  5. I think the enhancement of implants with such a technology would be a great utilization when a person already needs an invasive surgery. Otherwise I agree, that the risks would possibly outweigh the benefits of primary prevention.
    I think a possible solution for the problem of supplying the power source with energy could be a magnetic induction charger. Without any doubt the technology has to be improved, but when the range of such a charging station is increased, an implant could be charged easily over night, while the person is sleeping.

     
  6. I think the enhancement of implants with such a technology would be a great utilization when a person already needs an invasive surgery. Otherwise I agree, that the risks would possibly outweigh the benefits of primary prevention.

    I also believe that a possible solution for the problem of supplying the power source with energy could be a magnetic induction charger. Without any doubt the technology has to be improved, but when the range of such a charging station is increased, an implant could be charged easily over night, while the person is sleeping.

    By solving the problem of supplying the power source with energy, the data transmission rate could possibly be improved as well and the implant would be able to send greater amounts of data, collected by the new sensor technology.

     

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