Technology advances in medicine have transformed the way scientists work and have made countless discoveries possible in recent years. As a result, doctors are finding new ways to treat and even cure illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. But has it made a significant impact in the daily lives of the general public?
Some of the advances have been contained within laboratories and surgical centers while others have had a trickle down effect eventually landing in the consumer marketplace. Here’s a look at a few of the latest medical advances that are improving the way many people live their lives, and in some cases, have saved lives.
Medical Alert Systems for the Elderly
The U.S. has a senior population that’s about to explode in number. Being able to maintain independence is important to older individuals who are still healthy enough to carry out daily tasks on their own. However, a number of concerns from waning eyesight to fall risks are cause for real concern. Many senior citizens are worried that if they have a medical emergency they won’t be able to get the help they need.
Many families choose to use medical alert systems for elderly individuals for peace of mind. Medical alert systems are typically worn around the neck and have a button that can be pushed for immediate assistance. The device also has a built-in intercom so that the wearer can talk with a responder who’s alerted the moment the button is pushed. From there the responder can call 9-1-1, a family member or neighbor for help if needed.
Cellular technology has made the new medical alert systems possible. Unlike previous generations, a landline is no longer needed. Motion sensor technology also allows the latest medical alert systems to automatically detect a fall, which can be critical if a person looses consciousness.
Wearable technology is a very exciting field right now. Several years ago when it emerged it was primarily used by trainers and physical therapists that worked with elite athletes. But health experts quickly realized the technology could benefit the general population.
Enter fitness trackers. In a time when obesity is on the rise and diabetes is becoming an ever-increasing problem, wearable fitness trackers that collect data on a person’s movement are seen as part of the solution. Of course, these fitness trackers provide little value without a way to decipher the data that’s collected.
App technology has proven to be the real lynchpin for fitness trackers. The bands synch with their corresponding apps to deliver information in real time. Users can see their daily totals, set goals and track progress. Having this kind of information a click away can help motivate people to stick with their healthy goals. Some fitness tracker apps even allow users to become part of an encouraging community.
Another type of wearable device is growing in popularity. Wearable stress monitors have become a focus for the health conscious. They come at a time when health experts are warning the general public that chronic stress creates serious problems.
Oftentimes people are unaware that stress is building or that it’s impacting them physically. Wearable stress monitors are designed to make us more aware of our reactions to stress and encourage us to relax. But how do these devices measure our mental well-being?
Stress monitors gather biometric data. That’s a clinical term for breathing and heart rate. These metrics can be indicators of when a person’s anxiety is increasing. More specifically, stress monitors measure heart rate variability (HRV). This can indicate whether heart rate is being by influenced the parasympathetic or sympathetic part of the nervous system.
Breathing rate is monitored a little differently. For this measurement motion sensors collect the data of breaths per minute. In order to capture the data the motion sensor must be worn against the torso.
When breathing and heart rate signal stress the monitor will vibrate to alert the wearer. Like fitness trackers, the data collected by the device can be shared with an app for assessment and tracking.