Category Archives: Medical

4 Great Ways Virtual Reality is Used

In 1935, American writer Stanley G Weinbaum wrote a short story called ‘Pymalion’s Spectacles,’ and in it he speculated that ‘Suppose I make it so that you are in the story, you speak to the shadows, and the shadows reply, and instead of being on a screen, the story is all about you, and you are in it’. Little did he know, but he had just predicted virtual reality (VR). Since then, there have been years of experimentation which have culminated in VR as we currently know it, and it is used across a broad spectrum of industries.

Entertainment and Leisure

Gaming has long used technology to heighten the user experience; you are able to simulate baseball games and recruit players such as the all-time greatest Texas Ranger Ivan Rodriguez into your winning team, and now other forms of entertainment are using technology to provide a greater experience. Theater audiences have moved on from 3D and can now be fully immersed into the movie and its surrounding imagery and special effects. No matter what experience floats your boat, there is a virtual app to transport you. If you are unable to get to a concert or a performance, you can download the experience and watch it from the comfort of your own home – just without the hustle and bustle of the other fans.


The healthcare industry uses virtual reality for diagnosis and treatment, and software can be used to construct 3D images of a patient’s body to help surgeons seek a solution to the presenting problem. The benefit of using VR for surgery is that surgeons are able to consider all the options available to them in a way that does not inflict harm on the patient; they can practice difficult procedures so that risk to the patient is reduced. Virtual reality is also used as a tool for rehabilitation to regain cognitive function for those patients who have suffered a brain injury or stroke, and it enables healthcare practitioners to accurately assess the results of exercises in a way that traditional therapies cannot be.


What better way is there to educate young people about the perils of dangerous driving than by making them experience it for themselves. Toyota has developed an app called Teendrive365 that educates teens about keeping safe on the road. Virtual reality can be used to bring culture to life, and museums are starting to use it so that people can experience their collections ‘first’ hand. New York’s American Museum of Natural History and London’s British Museum have made some of their collections accessible online which is a wonderful resource for us all.


With life being so fast-paced and frenetic, virtual reality is a solution that can be an ideal therapeutic tool to immerse the user into a realm of relaxation and meditation to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. For sufferers of PTSD and phobic disorders, VR can provide an environment that is safe and controlled to expose and acclimatize sufferers to the things that they fear in a measured and rehabilitative way.

Smartphone App for Clinical Trials

medical app

How do scientists recruit people for clinical research trials? There’s an app for that now!

Dr. Peter Elkin, MD, a professor at the University of Buffalo, has developed a cell phone app that allows you to see a list and quickly evaluate clinical trials in your area. Only registered clinical trials in a specific geographical area are included in the database. If you find a study that applies to your condition or is of interest, you can simply tap the app and it will send your information to the researchers to start the process of participation. Learn more about clinical trials here. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has great information about clinical research and patient participation here.

One of the long-standing problems with clinical research is the time-consuming process of finding relevant people to take part in scientific studies. It is both expensive and laborious to advertise and hunt down people to take part in ongoing studies. Creating an app makes this process more streamlined and significantly reduces costs. Click here to read more about the app.  Now you can use some of your down time while commuting or waiting to check out new studies. Another thing I like to do during down time is check out bingo sites for fun and entertainment.

There seems to be an app for nearly everything these days. Why not have an app that lists research trials in your area? The more people who know about the trials, the quicker the studies can progress. We all have dozens of apps on our phones. This is another one to add to your collection.

IBM Creates a Molecule That Could Destroy all Viruses

Wow, this is huge news with a lot of potential if scientists can deliver. One micromolecule to destroy everything from Ebola to Zika to Flu.

Via Popular Science:

Finding a cure for viruses like Ebola, Zika, or even the flu is a challenging task. Viruses are vastly different from one another, and even the same strain of a virus can mutate and change–that’s why doctors give out a different flu vaccine each year. But a group of researchers at IBM and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore sought to understand what makes all viruses alike. Using that knowledge, they’ve come up with a macromolecule that may have the potential to treat multiple types of viruses and prevent them from infecting us. The work was published recently in the journal Macromolecules.

Using linear actuators at human-interactive robotic lab

Using linear actuators at human-interactive robotic lab

During the posture phase of walk, the instrumented vibrating platform applies pseudo-random rotation perturbation to the ankle using 12 volt actuators. Dorsiflexion, plantar flexion and inversion-eversion movement recorded by a camera are some of the resulting movement of the ankle. A major importance of the platform is its ability to estimate the mechanical impedance of the ankle. The power is transferred from the actuators module using a Bowden cable to the footplate module. This is done while providing the system with a low profile. The robotic ankle foot is favorable for an agile walker since it is capable of various movements. The ankle foot is tailored to meet the users’ needs. Bowden cables are used to connect the actuation system to the prosthesis and the actuation system can be mounted or dismounted easily based on the users’ activities.

Research is still being conducted to find a platform that has a circular treadmill and a gait emulator. The platform allows for repeatable experiment on the prototypes steerable prosthesis. The prototype is expected to accommodate diverse surface profiles and diverse radiuses of turn thus enhancing maneuverability for navigating slopes. This research is expected to have tremendous impacts and the prototype is intended to imitator the mechanical functionality of a human ankle in all movements. The prototype is designed to be practical, light weight and tendon driven thus enhancing agility during turning. It will also have the ability to accommodate changes in the ground’s profile and slope.


The mechanical impedance of the human ankle is responsible for locomotion and thus very important. Studies are being conducted to estimate the impedence of the ankle in various periods of the walk. The results of this study will be used to develop an assistive robotic ankle foot that will imitate the time changing mechanism of a human ankle during different circumstances of gait.

The Fastest Man on Earth

This is a short documentary about Col. Stapp, known as the “Fastest Man On Earth”. It’s narrated by Henry Rollins!

Colonel John Paul Stapp, (11 July 1910 – 13 November 1999) M.D., Ph.D., was an American career U.S. Air Force officer, flight surgeon, physician, biophysicist, and pioneer in studying the effects of acceleration and deceleration forces on humans. He was a colleague and contemporary of Chuck Yeager, and became known as “the fastest man on earth”.

He was tasked with discovering how many G-forces the human body could withstand by strapping himself to a rocket sled and blasting across the desert at record speeds. By putting his life on the line, he ultimately saved millions of lives.

Fastest Man On Earth – Feeln Original by mesmartvideos

Scanaflo Home Urine Testing via Iphone

Scanaflo™ is a urine test kit in development that will empower people to monitor their health at home.

Health tech startup Scanadu is working on the cutting-edge of a new type of medical technology that could one day put the hospital in the palm of our hands. Scanadu is now in the testing phase with Scanaflo. This is an iPhone-ready urinalysis strip that, with just one pee, knows if you are pregnant, diabetic or have been smoking weed.

Found via TechCrunch

Recent Research into Anal Gas Expulsion (“Farting”)


Via Real Clear Science

Until recently, there hadn’t been formal studies to prove which foods would reduce anal gas expulsion (aka farting). The intent of recent research is to document the causes of extreme flatulence, flatulence-free foods and bacteria in the large intestine where the gas is generated.

Spanish researcher Fernando Azpiroz bolsters our scientific knowledge on passing gas. He published two new papers, one published in the journal Gut in June 2013, and the other just published to Neurogastroenterology and Motility. In his most recent paper, he documents how different diets affect flatulence.

It’s a good read, but you may prefer the summary, so i recommend you go to Real Clear Science for a great overview.

Well-Connected Hemispheres of Einstein’s Brain May Have Sparked Brilliance

Albert Einstein

From a Florida State University article – Research shows Albert Einstein’s brain had more extensive connections than other men.

The left and right hemispheres of Albert Einstein’s brain were unusually well connected to each other and may have contributed to his brilliance, according to a new study conducted in part by Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk.

“This study, more than any other to date, really gets at the ‘inside’ of Einstein’s brain,” Falk said. “It provides new information that helps make sense of what is known about the surface of Einstein’s brain.”

The study, “The Corpus Callosum of Albert Einstein’s Brain: Another Clue to His High Intelligence,” was published in the journal Brain. Unfortunately, an account is needed to access the full study, but you can read the extract here.

Backdoor to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner Computer System?



Researchers claim the chip used in military systems and civilian aircraft has built-in function that could let in hackers. The chip in question is ProASIC3 chip , it’s used in medical, automotive, communications and consumer products, as well as military use. Among applications where it’s used are remote surveillance systems, drones, and for flight-critical applications on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Good god, this is all we need to worry about now for possible terrorist attacks that no longer need to penetrate physical security to down a plane, now all they need is a really good hacker.

Read more at the Guardian.

Scientists: Stinky Sock Smell Helps Fight Malaria


From Seattle Times:

The smell of old socks can help fight malaria by attracting mosquitoes to a trap outdoors, scientists have found, and on Wednesday donors announced new funding to help develop the device.

Traps scented with the odor of human feet attracted four times as many mosquitoes as a human volunteer, said Dr. Fredros Okumu, the head of the research project at Tanzania’s Ifakara Health Institute. Mosquitoes who fly into the trap are then poisoned.

This is a big deal because according to the World Heath Org there are 3.3 Billion people at risk of malaria infection. Of those, 250 Million malaria cases occur per year and about 1 Million deaths result from it.

Possessed Hoarders


I found this short video documentary on compulsive hoarders (wikipedia), people whose lives are dominated by their relationship to possessions. The video is fascinating in a clinical sense, but could be scary or possibly revolting if you’re lacking in empathy for these folks because clearly there’s a psychological issue going on here.

The video is called ‘Possessed’, is about 20 minutes long and you meet 4 very different hoarders. If you enjoy watching medical mysteries or science shows, then I highly recommend watching it.

Intel is Getting Into The Medical Device Category of Embedded Devices

Intel Health Guide

Is it odd for a silicon vendor like Intel to get into the medical device business that they have to market and service as opposed to allowing another OEM to rebrand or license Intel’s IP?

I guess I need to look into this a little more, but that’s exactly what Intel has done. The device just received FDA approval and is called the “Intel Health Guide”. It’s considered a personal health system or a care management tool for healthcare professionals who manage patients with chronic conditions.

Essentially, your doctor sends you home with this, the patient can have the device take readings from the in-home patient (like blood pressure), then uploads the results to the Dr. who has a device or software on the backend to make assessments of the patient’s state.

I can definitely see a great use for this, especially for the elderly, but I would like to know the cost and what kind of revenue stream they’ll see from it since this is a gamble on their part.

Injured By A UFO? There’s A Medical Diagnostic Code For That

The Wall Street Journal’s Health blog researches some of the more interesting medical diagnostic codes to help track injuries throughout the world. For instance, if you’re injured by a spacecraft, that’s ICD-9 code E845.

And the extended definition notes that the code includes “launching pad accident,” but excludes “effects of weightlessness in spacecraft,” which has its own code (E928.0). And with a little sleuthing they found a reference to the need for these spacecraft codes go all the way back to 1966. No doubt due to the heightened awareness of the space race.

More interesting codes:

  • injury by nuclear weapons – E979.5
  • by paintball gun – E922.5
  • by atomic power plant malfunction in watercraft – E838
  • by ski-lift with gondola – E847