AF1624
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Medical Technology Question

Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:53 am

Hello guys,

Could some of you answer this very simple question ?

Background: I was watching a very nice BBC documentary about two British soldiers getting wounded in Afghanistan and coming back to the UK to basically get better. One lost vision in both eyes, to get some of it back, and lost his two legs.

The other guy lost both legs and an arm (Tom - the bloke with the most determination and courage I've ever seen - at one point he literary goes "oh yeah well, I don't mind too much about loosing the legs.. and the left arm, oh well, I didn't do much with it before anyway. I'll just find a way round it I guess - he did, he learned how to ski a year after!!).

So basically these guys get some very good prosthetic limbs after their respective operations and they actually do manage to live quite nicely after a while. I think the fact that they were young & strong & determined young men helped a lot.

ANYWAY, the question: at this point in time, how much of our body can be replaced by systems ? I'm not talking about live organs, but mechanical contraptions?

Is there such a thing as a bionic heart? Is there any prosthetic that can interface with the body's nerves? Etc..


Thanks !
Cheers
 
vikkyvik
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RE: Medical Technology Question

Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:24 am

Quoting AF1624 (Thread starter):
Is there such a thing as a bionic heart?

Yes, artificial hearts have been implanted. I think the life extension isn't huge - measured in days or months, typically, rather than years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_heart

Interfacing with nerves is quite complex. I know I read an article about a kid who has locked-in syndrome (that is, his brain is perfectly functional, but he's lost all motor ability). He was participating in an experiment whereby he could form sounds (and, eventually, words) by a device reading his brain waves. So he had to try and control what he was thinking, I suppose, and have that translated into sounds.

There are also ongoing projects into artificial eyes (my cousin worked on one briefly). And I think we have a member here who had surgery to have some sort of artificial hearing device implanted.
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DocLightning
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RE: Medical Technology Question

Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:39 pm

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 1):
Yes, artificial hearts have been implanted. I think the life extension isn't huge - measured in days or months, typically, rather than years.

There are implantible artificial hearts in development. None have FDA approval yet. Whether survival time will be good with them is unknown. Also, I'm not sure how a machine is supposed to sense the physiologic messengers that would normally cause the heart to increase its rate and contractility (like presence of epinephrine).

There is another class of devices that are called LVAD's. Left Ventricular Assist Devices. They aren't really artificial hearts, per se, but machines to help out a heart that otherwise would not be able to support life. I'm no cardiologist, but IIRC, a common design is to have a balloon in the left ventricle that inflates with each contraction so as to eject more blood through the aorta.

These are temporizing measures. They are meant to keep the patient alive for weeks or months until a suitable heart is available for transplant. In certain cases, patients have completely recovered from conditions previously thought to be fatal. They were thought to be fatal because before the LVAD they were. Who could have known that --if you could keep the patient alive-- the heart could heal from a bad viral myocarditis?

So yes, there are artificial hearts. No, you don't want one.
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vikkyvik
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RE: Medical Technology Question

Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:52 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 2):
There are implantible artificial hearts in development. None have FDA approval yet.

You sure? The Wikipedia article lists two that have FDA approval, with supporting documents, far as I can tell.

I specifically remember reading about someone who had (the first?) heart replacement with an artificial heart a few years ago.
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Medical Technology Question

Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:37 pm

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 3):
You sure? The Wikipedia article lists two that have FDA approval, with supporting documents, far as I can tell.

You're right. It's FDA approved, but the problem is that it hasn't been proven effective in improving any long-term outcome, so it doesn't have a specific indication. In other words, you can get it, but I'm not sure why you'd want it and I'd be shocked if your insurance will pay for it.

The newer "Total Artificial Hearts" that will have longer-term benefit rather than just bridging patients to transplant have not been approved. I was getting my messages crossed.
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"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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planeguy727
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RE: Medical Technology Question

Tue Jun 26, 2012 1:24 am

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 1):
And I think we have a member here who had surgery to have some sort of artificial hearing device implanted.

I think you may be referring to a cochlear implant. I have several friends with them. Here's a link to more info:
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/coch.aspx/
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vikkyvik
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RE: Medical Technology Question

Tue Jun 26, 2012 1:39 am

Quoting planeguy727 (Reply 5):
I think you may be referring to a cochlear implant. I have several friends with them. Here's a link to more info:

Thanks - I believe that's what I was referring to.

It connects to the auditory nerve, but you don't get the same sounds or whatever that people with normal hearing get.
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
vikkyvik
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Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2003 1:58 pm

RE: Medical Technology Question

Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:23 am

Hmm, speak of the devil - just saw this article on MSNBC:

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news...d-into-stephen-hawkings-brain?lite
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
flightmedic72
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RE: Medical Technology Question

Tue Jun 26, 2012 4:22 am

There was a time here in Alaska when the closest cardiac surgery unit was in Seattle. Patients with recent myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure were placed on an "intraaortic balloon pump" , a precursor to the left ventricular assist devices common today. The control unit was the size of a patient bed and three times as heavy. Patient would be transferred to Seattle in the cargo bay of a C-141. The units equipment and power requirements far exceeded any thing commercially available.
 
AF1624
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RE: Medical Technology Question

Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:12 am

Thanks for all the info, it's very interesting to see how technology helps. We design great enormous things but when it comes to the smallest of devices, we actually come to the hard part!

How about limbs? Other organs? Sorry if it seems weird or disgusting but I'm genuinely interested in how close we've come to, basically, I, robot or something.
Cheers

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