PSFK Picks: Top Five Health Innovations Of The Week

PSFK Picks: Top Five Health Innovations Of The Week

A 3D printed prosthetic hand and iPads that connect mothers to their babies in intensive care. The most innovative stories from the world of wellness.

  • 2 june 2013

Each week with its partner Boehringer Ingelheim bring you a snapshot of Five Innovative Ideas that are reshaping the health care industry. This weeks innovations include a 3D printed prosthetic hand and iPads that connect mothers to their babies in intensive care.


Open Source Prosthetic Hand Can Be Printed For $150
Robohand is a mechanical 3D-printed hand that can be created using a MakerBot 3D printer. Richard Van As, a South Africa-based woodworker, originally conceived the idea in 2011 after losing four of his fingers in an accident. Van As soon began collaborating with Seattle-based prop designer Ivan Owen to create a design for inexpensive prosthetics that could work as effectively as real hands and fingers, however these designs cost upwards of $10,000 per finger. The team then paired up with MakerBot to 3D print the components, which dramatically sped up the process of creating prosthetic hands and fingers, as well as lowered production costs. In all the Robohand, a fully functional robotic prosthetic hand, can be produced for a total cost of around $150, and has the potential to dramatically increase the availability of prosthetics to those in need.


Hospital Utilizes iPads To Connects Mothers With Babies In Intensive Care
The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has launched a new project dubbed BabyTime, which enables hospitalized moms to check on and interact with their newborns in intensive care. The center has introduced an iPad-based program whereby a device is immediately delivered to moms whose newborn has been admitted to intensive care. An iPad is set up next to the baby and parents can see their child and interact with doctors present, asking questions and getting updates. The initiative could help reduce the stress and fear felt by both parents and babies when they’re separated at birth, providing a more comfortable environment for new mothers.


App Uses Placebo Effect To Cure Depression
A Seattle-based startup called Placebo has developed an app called Placebo Effect which is intended to help people feel better about themselves and sustain behavior changes simply by mentally transporting them to someplace positive — akin to meditation or hypnosis. The app lets users ‘personalize’ the placebo by asking a series of simple questions to determine their goals, and let them choose the desired placebo, such as a pill, a magic wand, a communion wafer, or other options. Recent research has supported this idea, showing that placebos have about 75 percent the effectiveness as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate cases of depression. They have even been shown to be effective when the patient is made fully aware that the treatment is a placebo. Currently, placebos are used to test treatments, but in the future they could serve as a form of treatment in themselves, and an apps such as Placebo Effect could serve as an easy and inexpensive method of treatment.


Solar Suitcase Provides Essential Light For Health Workers In Impoverished Areas
Dr. Laura Stachel, an obstetrician from California, began working in Nigeria in 2008 to study ways to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. She found that hospitals were lacking in the most basic necessities, including a steady and reliable source of light, and deliveries were often conducted by flashlight or postponed until morning. In response, Dr. Stachel and her husband Hal Aronson created WE CARE Solar to provide hospitals with the basic necessity of a constant light source. Collaborating with her husband, a solar energy educator in Berkeley, the couple created an off-grid solar system that could be transported to where it was needed most. The Solar Suitcase includes high-efficiency LED lights, a universal cellphone charger, a charger for AA or AAA batteries, and 12V DC outlets. Their invention has made its way to health workers in impoverished areas and disaster relief teams around the world, including Haiti after the massive 2010 earthquake.


Lowering The Barriers Of Entry For Mental Health Care
One in five Americans will suffer from a mental health challenge or neurological disorder at some point in their lives, but two-thirds of those people will never seek treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. TalkSession aims to lower those barriers to entry by presenting intuitive, low-cost treatment tools, which make accessing mental health information and treatment as streamlined and simple as possible. It accomplishes this by bringing the most well-respected therapists online, and using data-driven insight to create better matches between doctors and patients. By filling out a simple form and answering questions, patients are quickly matched to the best treatment in their area, customized to their needs. Because it is anonymous and can be easily accessed at home on the computer, TalkSession can make it easier for those in need to seek out necessary care.

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 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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