The days of boring healthcare are over. New medical technology can help with everything from diabetes and concussions to earaches
Science and technology are continually advancing to make our lives easier (Skype!), solve problems (thank you, Google Maps), and give us things we never even knew we needed (this belfie stick takes selfies to a whole new level). But one of the most impactful ways science helps is by giving us the power to understand our bodies and take control of our health. In fact, the latest medical advancements—impressive and patient-focused—are the future of healthcare. (We're also amazed by these 9 Incredible Things Science Can Almost Do.)
For many diabetes patients, pricking their fingertip with a needle to test blood sugar levels has become a normal part of every day life. But new technology developed by nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego could eliminate the pain and make the process easier for millions. A non-invasive stick-on tattoo similar to a birth-control patch contains a sensor with electrodes that uses a mild electrical current to measure glucose levels. The tattoo can last for up to a day and then be tossed.
Another plus: Researchers say the method is extremely inexpensive—the new patch will cost a few cents. And tests have shown the device can measure glucose levels as accurately as the finger prick method. Scientists are still working to bring the tattoos to the market and make it so that they could send data directly to an app or the cloud via Bluetooth.
Hook up the CellScope with an iPhone and you could have an ear infection diagnosed on the spot. The small device attaches to your smartphone and turns it into an otoscope—the contraption doctors use to check your ear canal. The camera on your iPhone then takes video of what's going on in your ear and sends it to a medical professional, who can diagnose the condition and potentially prescribe a treatment. The device costs only $79, but each assessment is another $49. While it may seem a little pricier than a doctor's visit, the convenience is second to none, especially if you're prone to earaches. Physicians are also using the device in place of traditional otoscopes as a way to educate patients about their own condition.
New computer technology could accurately detect concussions and determine their severity better than current neorological tests. Erratic eye movement can be linked with brain injuries, so concussion tests often examine your eye movement patterns—but, until now, there has been no exact science to diagnosing a concussion. This new technology, created by Uzma Samadani, M.D., Ph.D. of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, mimics a typical neurological test for head injuries—a doctor moving a finger in front of a patient's eyes. But unlike a doctor's assessments, which can be largely subjective, the computer test, which is performed in a doctor's office, can provide consistent results. The technology can also provide a better picture of how well you're progressing post-head injury, so you can return to normal activities in a safe period of time.
If you thought electronic toothbrushes were just a gimmick, the newest advancements in at-home dental care will prove that upgrading your brush is no joke. The new Oral B SmartSeries toothbrush is Bluetooth-enabled to monitor how well you're brushing and save your data to a companion app on your smartphone. A pressure sensor will alert you if you're brushing too hard (which can cause gum damage and sensitivity) and an in-handle timer pulses every 30 seconds to let you know when to switch areas of the mouth. The brush will also count down to make sure you've brushed for the recommended two minutes. Bored brushers can read news articles at the bottom of the screen on the app while they clean their pearly whites.