Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Star Trek-like technology offers noninvasive monitor for patients and athletes

30.04.2009
How long will it take to develop Star Trek-like medical technologies? The gap between science fiction and reality is closing faster than many people may think.

A noninvasive, needle-free system that uses light to measure tissue oxygen and pH will soon be an alternative to the painful use of needles to draw blood and cumbersome equipment to determine metabolic rate. The futuristic system, dubbed the Venus prototype, is being developed by Dr. Babs Soller and her colleagues. It has the capability to measure blood and tissue chemistry, metabolic rate (oxygen consumption) and other parameters.

The sensor and portable monitor are funded by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) for use in space. Soller said the technology’s multiple, real-time applications will be beneficial to astronauts in their day-to-day activities and to critically ill patients on Earth.

“Tissue and blood chemistry measurements can be used in medical care to assess patients with traumatic injuries and those at risk for cardiovascular collapse,” said Soller, who leads NSBRI’s Smart Medical Systems and Technology team. “The measurement of metabolic rate will let astronauts know how quickly they are using up the oxygen in their life-support backpacks. If spacewalking astronauts run low on oxygen, the situation can become fatal.”

Placed directly on the skin, the four-inch by two-inch sensor uses near infrared light (that is just beyond the visible spectrum) to take the measurements. Blood in tiny blood vessels absorbs some of the light, but the rest is reflected back to the sensor. The monitor analyzes the reflected light to determine metabolic rate, along with tissue oxygen and pH. One unique advantage of Dr. Soller’s near infrared device is that its measurements are not impacted by skin color or body fat.

A noninvasive system also means a reduced risk of infection due to the lack of needle pricks. Most of the system’s development has occurred at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where Soller is a professor of anesthesiology. She has worked closely with researchers at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston to develop applications of the Venus system for space.

Former NASA astronaut and NSBRI User Panel Chairman Dr. Leroy Chiao said Soller’s sensor system and other technologies being developed for spaceflight are a wise investment.

“The neat thing about the work being done is that it is a two-for-one deal,” Chiao said. “Not only is this research going to help future astronaut crews and operations, it has very real benefits to people on the ground, especially to people in more rural areas.”

On Earth, there are several areas of health care that could benefit from Venus. However, it is patients treated by emergency personnel on ambulances and on the battlefield that could benefit the most from the technology.

“Eventually, we expect first-responders would have these devices, which would provide feedback on the severity of a person’s injury,” Soller said. “Data can be communicated directly to the hospital. Early access to this type of information may increase a victim’s chances of survival.”

The system’s Earth applications are not limited to urgent care. It will allow doctors to more efficiently monitor pediatric and intensive care patients. Athletes and physical therapy patients also stand to gain from the technology’s ability to measure metabolic rate and to assist in determining the level of activity or exercise that is most beneficial to the individual.

“Athletes would benefit from using these parameters in developing training programs that will help them improve their endurance and performance,” she said. “And we suspect the same thing will be true for patients in physical rehabilitation.”

Currently, Soller and her collaborators are working on several aspects to prepare the sensor for integration into spacesuits by reducing its size, increasing its accuracy in measuring metabolic rate, and developing the capability to run on batteries. These activities will also speed its application in helping to care for patients on Earth.

Soller’s technology is one of a group of innovative medical systems being developed by NSBRI to provide health care to NASA astronauts in space and to improve health care on Earth.

Learn more about other NSBRI technologies at: http://www.nsbri.org/EarthBenefits/FuturisticTechnologies.html

NSBRI, funded by NASA, is a consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight. The Institute’s science, technology and education projects take place at more than 60 institutions across the United States.

Brad Thomas | NSBRI
Further information:
http://www.bcm.edu
http://www.nsbri.org/NewsPublicOut/Release.epl?r=119
http://www.nsbri.org/EarthBenefits/FuturisticTechnologies.html

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht PET identifies which prostate cancer patients can benefit from salvage radiation treatment
05.12.2017 | Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

nachricht Designing a golden nanopill
01.12.2017 | University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>