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PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

From sensors that can predict falls before they happen to bio-hackers advancing human evolution, we bring you the most innovative stories from the...

Karen Summerson
Karen Summerson on September 15, 2012. @KJSummerson

PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a snapshot of Ten Innovative Ideas each week that are reshaping the health care industry. Continue reading below for the most exciting ideas from the past seven days.

Wireless Sensor Can ‘Predict’ Falls Before They Occur
Texas Tech Engineers have developed a device that alerts patients who might be at risk of falling by monitoring slight variations in their movements. The device, which is wireless and small enough to be clipped to a belt, works by employing a number of accelerometers and gyroscopes. These sensors measure and build a database of a person’s normal movements, including standing up and sitting down. The data is processed using sophisticated algorithms that identify patterns and will alert the patient to take caution if the pattern is broken, thereby reducing the risk of falls.

Bio-hackers Turn Themselves Into Cyborgs To Revolutionize The Human Body
Tim Cannon and Shawn Sarver are two of a growing number of rogue bio-engineers who readily experiment on themselves, augmenting their bodies by implanting small devices beneath the skin. These ‘biohackers’ are creating devices that allow them to perceive and feel sensations that are normally imperceptible to humans such as the magnetic fields emitted by power lines and microwaves. Another advocate, professor Kevin Warwick of the University of Reading, UK, implanted cybernetic sensors into the nerves of his arm that allowed him to control a large robotic arm just by moving his fingers. Proponents of biohacking believe that augmenting the body is an inevitable step in the coevolution of humans and technology.

Algorithm Can Trace The Source Of An Outbreak
A new algorithm from Swiss researcher Pedro Pinto is able to uncover the source of rumors, an epidemic or a crime across both simple and highly complex computer networks. The algorithm analyzes a small collection of data points within a network and works back from there to determine the origin, similar to how investigators are able to zero in on a cell phone’s location using triangulation. The more connections, or observers, a particular point has, the fewer that are needed to track down the source. The team has successfully used the algorithm to track a cholera outbreak in South Africa, determining the source of the spread using only a fraction of publicly available data. The scientists believe that the algorithm could also used to identify the source of computer viruses and can even determine the blogs most likely to make web content go viral.

Interactive Platform Helps People Manage All Aspects Of Personal Health
Startup Audax Health has launched a platform called Careverge that uses gaming and social media to help people manage all aspects of their personal healthcare. To begin, Careverge users answer a series of questions about their health history that range from daily dietary habits to specific illnesses. Based on the information provided, Careverge helps consumers make healthy lifestyle choices, while also providing a simple and personal way to track fitness goals, find the content to better understand a condition, or connect to community or medical professionals for advice and recommendations. Audax not only plans to market Careverge as a benefit for companies to offer employees, but also sell large health plans to reduce the large costs of their member populations by keeping them healthy.

Smart Sutures Detect Infections And Deliver Drugs To Expedite Healing
A professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has invented sutures that can precisely measure elevated temperatures which can indicate infection, and deliver heat to a wound site, which is known to aid healing. The electronic sutures, which contain ultrathin silicon sensors integrated on polymer or silk strips, can be threaded through needles without degrading the devices. The sutures could potentially be programmed to release drugs by coating the electronic threads with drug-infused polymers, which would automatically release the chemicals when triggered by signals such as heat or an electrical pulse.

System Can Quickly Collect, Separate And Transfuse Patient’s Blood
Engineers in Glasgow have created a chemical sponge in a compact system that allows for quick transfusions of the patient’s own blood during trauma situations. University of Strathclyde’s biomedical engineers worked to develop the HemoSep device to help reduce the cost, technology and personnel involved in complicated surgeries that have a high risk of blood loss. A mechanical aggregator separates out the red blood cells into a separate blood bag, and then returns them to the patient intravenously in a process known as auto-transfusion. In addition to eliminating risk, HemoSep could also help reduce the problems caused by having a short supply of certain blood types.

Intelligent Ink Provide Early Screening For Prenatal Diseases
Students at Johns Hopkins have designed a pen that can identify prenatal diseases early, accurately and far more cost effectively than other methods. Every year, a combined 6.3 million pregnant women and newborns die from pregnancy and childbirth complications. Ninety-nine percent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries where most women receive little, if any, prenatal care. Chemical reagents are mixed into the marker’s “ink,” which are designed to react with high levels of protein found in urine. When these proteins are present, the ink will change color, indicating the presence of a variety of conditions such as preeclampsia, diabetes and urinary tract infections. The team plans to make color-coded kits to screen for several conditions that can be deployed around the world.

Thermometer-Embedded Bodysuit Changes Color To Indicate Fever
The Babyglow is a temperature color changing bodysuit that lets parents know immediately if their baby is exceeding 98.6 degrees and may be starting a fever. This innovative 100% cotton sleep-suit / thermometer looks pink or blue when a temperature is normal, but when it rises, the garment changes to white as a helpful visual first alert for fevers. As the fever subsides, it switches back to normal.

Color-Coded Markers May Help Doctors Diagnose Neural Diseases Through The Eyes
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have designed a fluorescent marking system to diagnose degenerative neurological diseases. Using the eyes as connection to the nervous system, doctors are able to tag different proteins tied to specific diseases with a range of easily identifiable fluorescent colors. The technique would be helpful in quickly diagnosing diseases like Alzheimer’s, which would glow a predetermined color if present. They hope that this technique will help diagnose a range of neurodegenerative diseases with the application of eye drops and a simple eye exam.

Infographic Shows How Exercise Boosts Your Intelligence
A new infographic from OnlineCollegeCourses.com shows that exercise carries additional benefits beyond the health of the body, helping boost brain functions as well. In studies of students, 40 minutes of vigorous exercise was shown to increase IQ scores by an average of 3.8 points and improve overall performance on tests. On average, employees who work out regularly are 15% more efficient than their more sedentary peers, which means they can pack a 50-hour work week into 42.5 hours.

PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a steady stream of inspiring news and ideas in the health and wellness space. Once each week, we will be posting an article on PSFK.com. If you would like to gain access to the full stream of content, please check out Boehringer Ingelheim’s Facebook page, where they are publishing a regular stream of inspiring and informative content.

 

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