PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

PSFK Picks: Top 10 Health Innovations Of The Week

We bring you the most stimulating and exciting stories from the world of wellness research.

Wesley Robison
  • 2 june 2012

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.

Wearable, DIY Hearing Aid Translates Sound Into Vibrations For Hearing Impaired

The Re-Wired Helmet is a DIY hearing device that translates ambient sounds into haptic signals using bone conduction technology. Created as an alternative to medical procedures that hardwire a device directly into a patient’s skull, the helmet contains a microphone, amplifier and vibration and effects components, enabling a wearer to experience sound in a more physical way. Designed by Amelia Marzec, who lost hearing in one ear to a tumor, the device is an evolving experiment that relies on feedback from other project participants.

Biotech Company Reprograms Immune Cells To Fight Disease

Immusoft is a Seattle-based biotechnology company that is commercializing technology to re-program human immune cells to produce therapeutics in the body. The technology, called  Immune System Programming (ISP), could dramatically improve the ability to treat a range of diseases, as well as enhance human health and longevity. The company’s in vitro proof-of-concept studies were the first in the world to demonstrate a clinically viable method for directly programming a patient’s immune cells to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. The first ISP-based treatment Immusoft will advance to human trials is a therapy for MPS I, a rare, genetic, lysosomal storage disease.

Hospital Live Tweets Brain Surgery To An Audience Of 14.5 Million People

A brain tumor resection surgery performed on May 9th at the Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston, Texas was live tweeted by hospital staff, reaching an estimated audience of 14.5 million people. In addition to explaining each of the steps in layman’s terms, a brain tumor specialist was on hand to help answer people’s questions. The content included live photos and video, which were also posted to Pinterest, YouTube and other platforms. The audience came to the live surgery via the hospital’s website, as well as broadcast partners and The Houston Chronicle, Storify and other social media platforms. In February, the same hospital performed the world’s first ever live tweeted open heart surgery, documentation of which reached more than 125 million people over the course of about one month.

iPads Used To Streamline At-Home Veteran Care And Services

The US Department Of Veteran Affairs is equipping 1,000 certified family caregivers with Apple iPad tablets to help them streamline the process of caring for veterans at home. The Clinic-in-Hand project will equip family caregivers with iPads integrated with VA data that will facilitate the exchange of health-related data between the department, veterans and caregivers. The portable devices will save time for caregivers by allocating all the information they need to care for patients in one place and making that information easy to share across providers. To be considered eligible to participate, caregivers must be designated as “primary providers of personal care services” for eligible veterans who have been approved for the Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program.

IBM’s Workplace App Gives Employees Cash For Health Goals

Software company IBM, has recently received patent approval for their exercise and nutrition system that will help users monitor their own health in real-time, while providing monetary rewards as incentives. The software program has the potential to offer more accurate metrics on the health of individuals, enabling insurance companies to lower premiums and cut costs, passing those savings along to their members. The program relies on users to set their own goals and enter their own data, creating a scalable system that can accommodate a variety of users and their specific diets and exercise regimens. And because IBM vetted the idea over 10 years ago, their patent will only further solidify their standing, positioning them as a partner for devices like the Nike FuelBand and other consumer health monitoring tools.

Web App Analyses Mood On Social Networks, Promotes More Positive Conversation

PositiveTalk is a web-based app currently in beta that analyzes status updates on social networks like Facebook and Twitter to determine the relative mood of users and their friends, offering suggestions for ways to promote a cheerier outlook, even going so far as to recommend more positive people to follow and connect with. The app was created as a way to combat the negativity that often gets amplified online through various platforms, which can adversely impact a person’s health, finances and relationships.

Standing Mobility Device Improves Health And Accessibility For The Disabled 

The Robotic Mobilization Device is a new mobility device designed for people with disabilities that allows users to move about in a fully upright position. A collaboration between Turkey-based AMS Mekatronic and Tek RMD, the device uses robotic mechanics to improve mounting safety and ease, allow standing, crouching and sitting positions, and enables users to interact with those around them at eye level. Where earlier standing devices require users to use a cane or walker, the new design provides completely hands-free mobility. Much slimmer than wheelchair dimensions, users are free to move about with Segway-like mobility, improving skeletal and muscular health with much wider access to the built environment.

Automated Bone Lengthening Device Promotes Safety And Healing

Students at Rice University in Texas have automated a bone lengthening process that is used to correct bone deformities, such as abnormally short limbs. To correct bone deformities, surgeons standardly break a bone and apply a limb lengthening device that stretches the bone as it heals to a more appropriate length.  Previously, the technique required patients – most often children – to manually turn a screw to lengthen their limbs four times daily. The new device is motorized and battery operated, adjusting bone length in micro increments as frequently as 1,000 times a day. The gradual and more continuous process is easier on the soft tissues surrounding the healing bone, speeds up the healing process and eliminates the possibility of error and negligence.

Bionic Eye Employs Solar Panel Tech To Enable The Blind To Perceive Light And Shape

Professor Daniel Palanker at Stanford University has designed a bionic eye powered that receives its power from light and can restore sight to the blind. The system consists of specially outfitted glasses, a wireless retinal implant, and a battery fitted behind the wearer’s ear. Near infrared light is beamed into the eye, powering the implant to create an electric signal passed on to the wearer’s nerves.  Early results of trials in the UK demonstrated that the system enabled wearers to perceive light and shapes.

FlexLeg Provides Crutch-Free Mobility For People With Injured Legs

FlexLeg is a temporary prosthetic leg that offers an attractive alternative to crutches for people with lower leg injuries by enabling natural walking with hands-free mobility. Attaching above the knee, the devices rest the lower leg on a horizontal platform, bearing the weight of stepping motions on a flexible and durable base. Conceptualized by Brigham Young University students, Mike Sanders, Mark Roberts and Seth Gonzalez, FlexLeg aims to apply recent developments made in prosthetic limbs to people who require interim support while recovering from a temporary leg injury.

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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