As people begin to live longer, there has been an increase in need for the treatment and prevention of illness, both acute and chronic. Technology has come a long way in recent years and has greatly increased the efficiency and efficacy of electronic medical devices. Some relatively new technologies have found their way into medical devices. Examples of this trend are found in RFID technology, digital signal processors (DSPs), and wireless technologies. Portable devices like glucose monitors and implanted devices like pacemakers now use these components.
In order to understand the benefits of each of these technologies, it is important to have a basic definition for each of them. RFID stands for Radio Frequency identification. RFID is a system that uses radio waves to transmit identifying information on a person or object wirelessly. A digital signal processor takes information from a digital signal and gleans only the information it needs, ignoring all unnecessary information.
Some well-known technologies that would not be possible without improvements in technology are glucose monitors and pacemakers. Another implanted device has made it possible for people to hear when they would not be able to before. This is the cochlear implant.
There are several components to each of these electronic medical devices. One very popular product that has several new technologies included in it is the Dexcom Seven Plus Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. This system makes use of a sensor, a transmitter and a receiver. The sensor is implanted within the body. The transmitter connects to and sends the signal from the sensor. The receiver takes that signal and uses it to interpret and display glucose measures at 5 minute intervals.
Pacemakers are essentially small computers. There are, in fact, two different types of pacemakers. The most basic of these is the demand pacemaker. However, the more common pacemaker is the rate-responsive pacemaker. The components of each of these are similar, but their functioning is different.
Both types of pacemaker have up to three wires placed into one or more chambers of the heart. External computers help medical practitioners program the pacemaker to communicate with the electrodes in the computer that is part of the implanted device. With a demand pacemaker the only time electronic pulses are sent to the heart is if it is beating too slow or too fast. On the other hand, a rate-responsive pacemaker helps the heart-rate adjust based on a person’s activity level. Other signals that newer rate-responsive pacemakers use are a sinus-node rate, blood temperature, breathing and other factors.
There is an enormous amount of innovation occurring in the development of Electronics medical devices. This is due in large part to advances in technology. Recent advancements that have made devices more portable and more efficient are RFID technology and wireless communication.
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