A therapeutic equipment is a medical device that is used to treat a medical condition. It can also be used as a device to deliver drugs or as an assist device to improve one’s health condition. Some types of implants, prosthetic and wearable devices may also fall under the branch of therapeutic equipment.
Inventions in the field of therapeutic equipment may date back to several centuries as archaeologists across the world have found numerous findings on usage of various types of surgical equipment and implants. Current applications in the field of therapeutic equipment mostly deal with diseases affecting vital organs such as heart, kidney and lungs.
Future trends in therapeutic equipment may focus on making them smaller in size with better battery life. Digitization and easy data transfer could be seen in future therapeutic equipment.
Pacemaker is a medical device used to regulate the functions of the heart. Depending upon the type of pacemaker, it may be used to trigger a heart beat or regulate irregular heart beat by sending electrical impulses.
The natural pacemaker of the heart is the ‘SA node’ located on the wall of the right atrium, the upper right chamber of the heart. This node generates electrical impulses that cause the heart to contract and pump blood. These contractions are rhythmic and any irregularities in heartbeat are medically known as “arrhythmia”.
In such patients with arrhythmic conditions, a pacemaker may be needed to regulate heart beat. A cardiac pacemaker is a small device with inbuilt battery and electronic circuit system that is implanted under the collar bone. Leads are connected to the heart muscles via electrodes which conduct electrical impulses from the pacemaker and cause the heart to beat in regular rhythm.
Current trends in pacemaker design are – making them MRI safe to enable patients with pacemakers to obtain MRI scan without interference, leadless pacemakers which do not require major surgery to implant, rate responsive pacemakers which save battery by pacing on-demand, wireless remote monitoring, memory and data storage etc.
The future trends in pacemaker design might highly focus on eliminating the leads and a reduction in size. Pacemakers less than 5 cm in length without leads are more likely to come under usage in the future.
Leadless pacemakers are directly placed on the heart and they are suitable for patients with Atrioventricular block. AV block means that the electrical stimuli from a natural pacemaker cannot efficiently travel to the ventricles which are the lower chambers of the heart.
More future advancements could be expected in this device which could correct both irregular heart rhythm and conduction of electrical signals to ventricles.
Dialysis is a therapeutic procedure for people whose kidney becomes inefficient to eliminate waste products from blood. In a healthy person, the kidney works as a purifying filter by removing waste products from blood. It also balances fluids and electrolytes.
For patients with renal failure, dialysis is a life saving procedure. As kidney transplant is not possible for all renal failure cases, dialysis replaces the functioning of the natural kidney. And that is why the dialysis machine is also known as an “artificial kidney”.
The dialysis machine has an inlet and outlet through which blood from the patient flows in and out. Air traps are placed to prevent air bubbles and several alarms are set to detect disturbances in blood flow. The patient’s blood that enters the dialysis machine flows through a dialyser via blood pump. A dialysate fluid containing acidified solution and bicarbonate also flows into the dialyser but it is separated from blood by a membrane primarily made of cellulose.
By the concept of permeability, waste products from blood enter dialysate and flow to the drain. As the membrane is permeable, minerals and electrolytes are balanced as the blood flows out of the machine into the patient’s body.
In contrast to other therapeutic devices, dialysis setup has not changed much in the past few decades. In the future, this procedure might become so common as the number of diabetes patients is on a continuous rise. Future dialysis machines might become smaller and easy to operate at home by patients themselves. They might also become wearable with digital controls. A wearable dialysis machine can also be considered as an artificial kidney with low weight and easy operation.
The main drawback of traditional dialysis is – the patient feels arrested and immobile as the machine takes a lot of time to purify. This affects the patient’s day to day life. Artificial kidney eliminates this drawback by enabling the patient to continue life as normal. It works just like the natural kidney by filtering all the time. Designing smaller weightless parts, using less purified water and efficient disposal of filtered dialysate are the challenges to overcome in future, in order to introduce the most awaited artificial kidney.
An infusion pump is used to deliver medication or fluid to the patient in controlled amounts. It is programmed to adjust the volume and rate of flow by which a predetermined amount of fluid is delivered into the patient’s circulatory system.
The infusion pump has a programmed control which presses the tube carrying fluid. This decides the amount of fluid passing through the rubber tubing. The front panel has control units which can be adjusted by the healthcare staff. Air traps are carefully designed to prevent air bubbles from entering the patient’s circulatory system.
Current infusion pumps mainly have the disadvantage of overdosing or underdosing. As the fluid flows in peristaltic movement, the pump may not diagnose any overflow if it occurs. Without an alarm, the technician may not notice overdosage which could harm the patient. In future, this could be rectified with a more organised method of monitoring.
Protecting the programmed device from external interference or hacking, setting the device to send alarms with more accurate sending may become future trends in infusion pump design. Details such as the medication type, flow rate etc may be designed to appear at the nurse station monitor along with other vital parameters. This could help in detecting any errors that may happen with the device.
These are a few common therapeutic equipment widely used across the world. They all undergo constant updations in their design, according to requirements and to eliminate drawbacks. Trends and advancements in these