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Monday, September 26, 2022
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Finding the Healthcare Equilibrium

One of the many things that make human beings so special is our very tendency to grow on a consistent basis. In fact, if we look back for a second, we’ll see how this tendency has allowed us to hit upon some huge milestones throughout our history, with each one bringing a unique value into our lives. However, despite that being the ultimate dynamic here, we are still yet to see anything as unprecedented as technology. While the reason why technology gets to be an anomaly is predicated upon its skill-skit, it is, at the same time, also moved by the way those skills were used to impact an entire spectrum, including the highly-critical area of healthcare. Notably enough, this boost ended up arriving right when the stated sector was struggling to hold up against an outdated structure. It would go on to introduce a host of fresh ideas, thus changing the discipline’s identity for the better. Nevertheless, even after achieving such a monumental feat, the famous medtech linkup will continue to produce the right goods. The same pattern should only get more evident on the back of a recent development.

The researching team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has successfully developed an ultrasound sticker, which is designed to stick to the skin and provide a non-invasive brand of imaging. At present, the leading methodology to carry out an ultrasound procedure involves applying a liquid gel to a patient’s skin before a probe is brought in to bounce sound waves off their internal organs. Now, even though the echoed signals have proven to produce reliable visual images, the whole process remains pretty tedious, especially in cases where the patient requires imaging for a longer duration. This need to simplify things prompted medical researchers to discover stretchable ultrasound probes that would provide portable imaging of internal organs. However, the emerging convenience will come at the expense of overall image quality, therefore hurting the eventual diagnosis. Fortunately though, the latest MIT brainchild does a lot to solve that problem. By combining a stretchy adhesive layer with a steady assortment of transducers, the new system is able produce clear images without causing any hassle at all. According to certain reports, the technology is made from two thin layers of elastomer that encapsulate a middle layer of solid hydrogel, a mostly water-based material that easily transmits sound waves. The entire ultrasound sticker is also measured at just 2 square centimeters wide and 3 millimeters thick, touted to be as big as a postage stamp.

“With imaging, we might be able to capture the moment in a workout before overuse, and stop before muscles become sore. We do not know when that moment might be yet, but now we can provide imaging data that experts can interpret,” said Xiaoyu Chen, one of the lead authors involved in the study. “We imagine we could have a box of stickers, each designed to image a different location of the body,” Zhao says. “We believe this represents a breakthrough in wearable devices and medical imaging.”

For the future, the researchers plan on turning their system wireless. Beyond that, they are also working to develop software algorithms based on artificial intelligence that can better interpret and diagnose the stickers’ images.

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