Showing posts with label medical technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label medical technology. Show all posts

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Can You Hear Me Now?


Lombard - Split Second Act from Ear to Brain –

It has been observed that humans as well as animals while trying to be heard over sound tend to raise their voices. It is said to be a split-second act from the ear to the brain for vocalization. The first to measure how fast it tends to occur in bats – 30 milliseconds, are researchers from Johns Hopkins University. This is 10 times quicker than the blink of an eye, a record for audio vocal response.

 Since this deed is known as the Lombard, its effect tends to take place very fast; the researchers were capable of solving a long overdue mystery considering the neural mechanism behind it. Recently in a paper publishing in the journal `Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’, they concluded that it could be a fundamental temporal reflex instead of a deeper, thinking behaviour as presumed earlier, which would be time consuming in processing.

The discoveries shedding light on the foundations of human speech control has also disclosed how species as diverse as fish, animals, and frogs together with humans tend to share the ability to be head over the fight. Co-author Ninad Kothari, a graduate student in Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins stated that scientist have been speculating for a century that, could there be a common auditory process in explaining how this phenomenon occurred in fish to frogs to birds to human species with wildly various hearing systems and they had resolved this question.

Lombard Effect

The new statistics could lead to improved treatment for diseases and the Lombard effect could be intensified like Parkinson’s disease as well as support in building assistive medical devices. Studies conducted on bats, animals which tend to depend on sonar-like echolocation, releasing sounds and listening for echoes in order to sense, track and catch prey, had been carried out by the researchers.

In contrast to humans, where the vocalization tends to be reasonably long and slow, bats seems to be perfect for such sensorimotor study since their extraordinary frequency chirps, unnoticeable to the human ear are said to be quick and accurate enabling the researchers to test the parameters of a mammalian brain.

While tracking an insect moving towards the animal on a tether, the team had trained big brown bats to stay balanced on a platform and while the bat hunted for the insect, the researchers had recorded the vocalization of the bat with an array of 14 microphones. The researchers at time permitted the bat to hunt in silence while at other times they played bursts of interfering white noise at different intensities from a speaker which has been placed in front of the bat.

Brain Monitors Background Noise Continuously

It was observed that the white noise had interfered with the echolocation of the bat and had caused the bat to emit louder and louder chirps not different from two neighbours attempting in making a conversation, first over a lurid radio and then over the clamour of a lawn mower and thereafter over the blast of a passing fire engine.

When the noise had stopped, the bat would also stop shouting, to speak and voice at a more usual level. The researchers capable of creating a computational model for the Lombard effect which tends to be applicable to all vertebrate, reached a conclusion that the brain of a bat or a person or a fish tends to monitor continuously the background noise and is inclined to adjust the vocal levels whenever the need arises.

 At first the auditory system is said to notice the background noise. Then the auditory system measures the level of sound pressure and tends to adjust the vocalization amplitude in order to compensate and when the background noise stops, the sound pressure level dissipates as well as the level of vocalization.

Connection Between Hearing & Vocalizations

The author observed that this complete intricate process tends to take place in only 30 milliseconds. In terms of near-instantaneous brain reactions, they name this reflex as `remarkably short’. Lead author Jinhong Luo, a Johns Hopkins postdoctoral colleague had stated that `typically, we breathe every three to five seconds, our heart beats once per second and eye blinking takes one third of a second.

If we believe that eye blinking is fast, the speed at which an echolocating bat responds to ambient noise is truly shocking – 10 times quicker than we blink our eyes’. Scientists are of the belief that the Lombard effect seems to be much slower, around 150 to 175 milliseconds for humans.

Johns Hopkins professor of Psychological and Brian Sciences and Neuroscience and a co-author, Cynthia Moss commented that their study features echolocating bats as valuable animal models for understanding connections between hearing and vocalizations, including speech control in humans.

 The research has been supported by the national Science foundation IOS-1010193 and IOS-1460149, the Human Frontiers Science Program RGP0040 and LT000279/2016-L, the Office of Naval Research N00014-12-1-0339 and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research FA9550-14-1-0398

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Using a Smartphone to Screen for Male Infertility

male fertility test
Male fertility tests are not as simple and easy to perform as the female counterparts but latest innovation made by some researchers is all set to change the game. Most of the at home male fertility tests allows users to just check upon sperm count but it leaves a wide range of other characteristics which also effects the fertility. One of the major important characteristics usually left aside in the so called in-home male fertility tests includes sperm motility which signifies how much energetic are the sperm cell while they move around.

Researchers behind the automated male fertility testing system

The researchers at the Brigham & Women’ Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital had successfully developed a completely automated system which can effectively help in performing certain male fertility tests. This particular system is remarkable in accurately measuring the concentration of the sperm as well their motility ration by simply using a smartphone. It also requires some of the snap-on components which are quite cheap in nature.

The functioning of the automated system is quite simple wherein the users are required to place the semen sample in a disposable chamber of the snap-on component. The snap-on component is designed with precision and care and doesn’t’ looks odd at all rather it appears like a usual smartphone case. There is a disposable microchip placed in the component and the light source for effectively measuring the part of sample is the smartphones camera. The smartphone camera helps in illuminating the semen sample while sensing equipment placed in the component does the rest of the work.

A special app is required to be installed on the smartphone which in later stage makes use of the image and helps in carefully evaluating the number as well as activity of the sperm cells in the sample. However this isn’t the first of its kind male fertility testing system as there is already a similar technology called YO sperm test system which happens to be sold directly to the consumers.

How this technology works? 

Researchers have made use of as many as 350 clinical sperm specimens to analyse the results and improvise the technology with each iteration. They had made use of unwashed and processed liquefied semen in order to conduct tests. The sample were kept at less than 5-s which ensured lower processing time and helped in getting accurate results with about `98% accuracy. Under the World Health Organisation the test were conducted to ensure its integrity as well as the efficiency of the technology for global usage in the upcoming days.

Their research has also shed light to the fact that by simply integrating few microfluids along with the optical sensing accessories in the modern advanced consumer electronics smartphone can help in developing the remote semen testing equipment without much hassle. Therefore they opted for bringing the amalgamation of the technology on the smartphone which can be easily access by millions worldwide and an app has been developed to provide quick and accurate fertility test results right from the sample within shortest amount of time.

Friday, 24 July 2015

This Biotech Discovery Means You’ll Never Need a Painful Flu Shot Again


Dissolving Needle Technology - MicroHyala

Diseases are infectious and are the major cause of death all over the world and hence the need of safe and effective vaccines is of great importance. Though the vaccinations are given with subcutaneous or intramuscular injection that has been administered by medical personnel having technical skills, it is also accompanied with the risk of needle related disease as well as injuries.

Besides this antigen solution need cold chain storage as well as transportation system and hence the development of vaccine which could be easy to use and administered, together with superior in stability of formulations is essentially important.Getting vaccinated is now no longer a painful ordeal since a group of researchers in Japan have tested a new `dissolving needle’ which seems to be a painless patch that one can stick to the arm and which tends to work well.

The dissolving needle technology is known as MicroHyala. Scientists have created a new micro needle patch that is made of dissolvable substance which makes flu vaccination safer, easier and painless by eliminating needle connected risks of injuries and diseases. Flu vaccination are delivered utilising micro needles which dissolve in the skin and protects a person against infection much better than the standard needle delivered vaccine according to researchers.

Readily Adaptable for General Practical Use

Transcutaneous microneedle delivery device that meets the requirements of the only application’ vaccination system, has been developed. The technique is readily adaptable for general practical use especially in developing countries with inadequate public health resources.

However microneedles which are made of metal, stainless steel or silicon tend to pose risks of fractures, with fragments left in the skin. Hence the development of a dissolving microneedle patch has been fabricated from hyaluronic acid a component of skin tissue. Researcher from Osaka University in Japan state that their dissolvable patch which is the only vaccination system of its kind tends to make vaccination less painful. Microneedles on MicroHyala tend to penetrate the stratum corneum that acts as a physical barrier on the outer layer of the skin and are dissolved by water in the skin.

The MicroHyala efficiently delivers the various substances which can be loaded in the microneedles to ample immune-competent cells like Langerhans cells, dermal dendritic cells and keratinocytes in the epidermis as well as dermis beneath the stratum corneum. They found that when they used the MicroHyala in delivering the flu vaccination, it was quite effective as the standard needles.

The New Microneedle Patch

Most of the vaccinations are administered under the skin or into the muscle with the use of needles. Though this is an effective method in delivering a vaccination, it needs medical personnel with technical skills, bringing about the risk of needle related diseases and injuries.The new microneedle patch is made of dissolvable material which eliminates the needle connected risks.

It is easy to use without the requirement of trained medical professionals and makes it appropriate for use in developing countries, especially where healthcare means tends to be limited. Professor Shinsaku Nakagawa, one of the authors of the study from Osaka University states the `their novel transcutaneous vaccination using a dissolving microneedle patch is the only application vaccination system which is readily adaptable for widespread practical use’.

He further added that since the new patch is easy to use, they believe that it will be particularly effective in supporting vaccination in the developing countries.MicroHyala, the new micronneedle patch is dissolvable in water and the miniature needles are made of hyaluronic acid which is a naturally occurring material which cushions the joints. When a patch is applied like a plaster, the needles tend to pierce the top layer of the skin and dissolve into the body taking the vaccine with them.
Designed to Dissolve in the Skin
The new system was compared by the researchers with the traditional needle delivery by vaccinating two groups of people against three strains of influenza namely A/HINI, A/H3N2 and B. There was no sign of any bad reaction to the vaccine to any of the subjects, indicating that it is safe to be used in humans. The patch also seemed effective wherein the people, who were given the vaccine using the micro needles, had an immune reaction which was equal or stronger than those that were injected with the vaccine. Nakagawa said that they were excited to see that their new micro needle patch was effective as the needle delivered flu vaccine and in some cases it was even more effective.

 The earlier research had assessed the use of micro needles made of silicon or metal though they were not considered to be safe. The materials used for micro needles also tend to run the risk of breaking off in the skin and could leave tiny fragments behind. With the new dissolvable patch this risk is eradicated since the microneedles have been designed to dissolve in the skin.

Nakagawa states that they have shown that the patch tends to be safe and works well. Besides this, it is also painless as well as easy for non-trained individuals to use it and that it could bring about a major change in the way vaccine is administered globally. The research had been published in the journal Biomaterials – SAR AKJ SAR.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Many Benefits of Today's Heart Rate Monitors

Heart Rate Monitor
Heart rate monitors are devices that give one a way to measure their heat rate. It can be done in real time or recorded for reference later on. They are widely used by athletes and those who regularly perform physical activities.

Earlier versions included a separate monitoring box with electrode leads that one would have to attach to their chest. Wireless monitors were developed by the 1970’s, and they were used in cross country ski training. As more people became interested in high intensity training, the monitors became quite popular. By the 1980’s, anyone who worked out regularly found them to be a very useful device.

There are three main categories of these heart rate monitors. This includes finger sensor models that are commonly seen in hospital settings, chest strap models used with treadmills, and the more practical wrist watch versions. One can find several styles on the market. Many will have additional features that help with things such as weight loss, recovery, or intense training routines. They are readily available through online sites such as or any store selling exercise or medical related items.

Those who can benefit the most from the use of such devices include walkers and joggers. They can get more out of exercising by aiming for heart rates that are fat burning or aerobic target zones. Runners will use them to keep in their ideal target zone during both intense and easier training sessions. Some models can also alert the user if they are becoming dehydrated or reach a deficit in nutrition.

Cyclists use these monitoring devices when on the road, trails, or even stationary bikes. Hikers, skiers, and climbers can keep track of their heart condition when going up in altitude, and then they can record their reaction to thrills on the way down. Anyone interested in weight loss will want a version that displays the number of calories being burned while exercising. This helps them target which routines provide the maximum in fat burning abilities.

Along with the monitor’s many uses in athletics, they are a valuable piece of equipment to patients and doctors involved with rehab. Rehab patients, especially cardiac patients, rely on the real time readings. It allows them and their physician to safely return their bodies back to full strength.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

5 Medical Technologies That Will Change Healthcare Forever

No one would ever suggest that health care is something that ever remains static. Most people do agree with the assessment that the world of health care is one commonly associated with innovation and research. The one error many people do commit is they assume that the innovations are only in the world of medicine and pharmaceuticals. This assessment is not accurate one. There are other areas of the health care field that are consistently innovating. One such area would be the one related to medical technology.

Medical technology has grown enormously in recent years. Among the more interesting areas in which it has grown has been that of medical records. Today, many doctors are able to keep track of electronic medical records and do so in an extremely effective manner. The doctors are not even the main beneficiaries of these innovations. Of course, it would be the patients who benefit the most thanks to the better systems created through electronic record databases.

Other unique technological innovations and inventions are emerging on the health care front. For those interested in what these innovations may be, here are the top five.

#1. 3-D Printing. 3-D Printing might seem like a very odd inclusion on a list of revolutionary medical technology devices. Its presence should not be looked at in a dismissive manner since there are quite a number of practical uses for this type of printing. For example, 95% of all modern hearing aids are created through the process of 3-D Printing. Research shows that partial bioorgan tissue printing might be a very real possibility in the future. One of the great benefits of this or any other type of medical technology is great innovations are built on past successes.

#2. Brain-Computer Interfaces. Brain-Computer Interfaces might very well bring forth the long sought after solution to a number of hurdles paraplegics frequently have to face. The original, earlier versions of this technology were designed to use brain signals to help move a cursor across a computer screen. Today, there is work being performed on these systems to connect them to movement in robotic limbs or even parallelized limbs. Certainly, it is going to take a great deal of time for technology such as this to be perfected but the time it takes make be far less than initially anticipated.

#3. Robotics. Robotics are not exactly anything that can be considered completely new. Robotic technology has been around for decades and they continue to increase in sophistication and effectiveness. Robotics are going to be used in the health care field in scores of different ways. Robots are going to be used in service sectors as they taken over many automated tasks. On a higher level, robotic exoskeletons may be employed in the treatment of patients who are not able to walk on their own accord. The truth is robots can likely be used in a host of different ways and their use in the health care world will likely continue to expand.

#4. Point-of-Care Diagnostics. Diagnosing patients is not always easy and there are times when the process, however necessary, can be an invasive one. No physician wants a patient to suffer from any invasive treatments, but this can be unavoidable. With the advent of new Point-of-Care Diagnostics, there might be a new hand-held medical technology in the form of electronic devices capable of performing a simply diagnosis of all manner of problems. The device might not even be needed in a hospital. Those who have such a device their home could engage it to give a basic diagnoses right from their residence.

#5. Artificial Intelligence. The notion of self-aware technology is still many years away in the future, but early prototypes of machines and technology capable of offering reliable diagnostic tools to doctors based on information stored in their mechanical brain are proving to be quite helpful.

The world of medical technology is always going to be an evolving and innovating one. This is certainly a good thing. These unique innovations are what contribute to the overall incredible improvements people will experience in the health care they are offered.