The use of metal and mechanical parts to enhance human beings for medical reasons dates back as long as there have been screws and plates that individuals could cram into their bodies. Attempts have been made by physicians, witch doctors, voodoo practitioners, and experimental sadists to improve, enhance and heal through the enmeshment of flesh, bone, and metal or stone in nearly every era, for almost every reason.
It was only after the First World War that the discipline of biomechanics really took hold and became a regular practice in the medical community. A far cry from the peg legs and hooked hands of pirates, this exercise led to doctors using every conceivable piece of technology to improve the lives of their patients. As time has gone on and technology has improved, the complexity of the items that were interfaced with our bodies has become as intricate as our forms themselves.
Today, as the world of invention progresses, it’s difficult to keep pace with all the new implants available to save our flesh from the ravages of age, disease, and infirmity. For those looking to find a novel new way to augment themselves, here’s 16 medical implants you’ve never heard of that might save your life.
Alpha AMS Subretinal Implant
Retinal implants are nothing new, but at 1,600 pixels, the AMS allows allows vision of a much higher resolution than previous models. Created by German firm Retina Implant AG, once the implant goes in it replaces the action of the retina, stimulating the optic nerve and taking a series of pictures that are transmitted to the brain, allowing those with damaged retina, but otherwise healthy eyes to see again.
Amyloid Beta Reducer to Treat Alzheimer’s
Amyloid beta is a protein that can be beneficial, but has also been tied to the mental degradation of Alzheimer’s disease. As Amyloid beta builds up, it is thought to cause issues with memory and concentration, leading to dementia and years of suffering. To combat this, researchers at the prestigious École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland have devised an implanted devise that releases compounds which combat Amyloid beta, potentially stopping Alzheimer’s in its tracks.
Dissolvable Electronic Brain Implants
Not all implants are intended to stay permanently in the body. Many are put in to treat an acute condition, or diagnose an issue, and then be removed. The issue with these temporary implants is the surgery to put them in and to take them out again is invasive. To solve this problem, medical researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created electrical implants that dissolve when they are no longer needed, and pass out of the body harmlessly.
Procyrion, Inc. Circulatory Support Pump
Valves and pacemakers are common implants for those with heart conditions, but for people who suffer with chronic heart failure, they often aren’t enough. This small pump from Procyrion works in conjunction with other implanted devices to continue moving blood through the body of a patient, even when the heart seizes, ceases, or goes into arrhythmia.
Stroke survivors often suffer from severely reduced mobility in one side of their body, often completely unable to use one arm for the remainder of their life. The Vivistim System is placed beneath the collarbone and sends electrical impulses along the Vagus nerve which causes new neural pathways to grow and greater utility of the injured arm to be restored.
Wireless Nano Machines
The 80’s and 90’s saw a multitude of movies and television shows about shrinking a vessel down to enter a human body, but never before have we been so close. Developed at Stanford, these are small enough to travel through the human bloodstream, removing clots, taking pictures, and performing minor surgeries, all via remote control.
Synthetic Vocal Chord Gel
Though most of us take our voices for granted, there’s an unusually high number of people, approximately 6% of the population in the United States alone, who literally have no voice. Our vocal chords are delicate and easily damaged, which can leave a sufferer speechless for the rest of their lives. This specialized gel coats damaged vocal chords providing a permanent, harmless way for those who could not speak to again sing out.
Conceivably the answer to relieving Big Pharma’s stranglehold on human health, the ElectRx device is an implant that constantly monitors a patient’s overall health, and sends out stimulating messages to help tell the body’s organs to heal themselves. Highly geared toward preventative care, it could stop or arrest diseases without the need for harmful drugs filled with side-effects.
Brain Medicine Dispenser
Neurological disorders such as epilepsy or depression can be difficult to treat, because the symptoms can arise so rapidly, yet the treatments are so time-consuming. Using an implanted dispenser no larger than a hair, it has been found that rather than using a whole array of pills, patients can be given faster relief via remote, with drugs going right where they’re needed, when they’re needed.
An entire laboratory that can almost fit on the head of a pin, this tiny, injectable implant sits in the body of cancer sufferers and keeps constant vigil over the chemicals present in the body, allowing it to determine if certain kinds of tumors are growing, or note changes in the heart that could indicate danger. It can then warn doctors before a serious problem turns deadly.
Flexible Spinal Implant for Paralysis
Our spines are extremely delicate, with thousands of nerve fibers running through them, yet they are constantly being abused. Each year, thousands end up paralyzed because of a simple injury to the back. While there are implants that can reconnect damaged nerves and stop paralysis, they are often rejected by the body. This new flexible implant offers a connection that is able to move as a person does, preventing rejection by the body and a lifetime of motion.
3D Printed Trachea for Baby
3D printing has caused a revolution in the medical implant industry, giving doctors the option to create delicate, intricate items out of any material they wish to devise everything from skin to replacement parts. One of the most famous instances is that of a baby who was given a full trachea so that he was able to breathe.