Innovation is of paramount importance for every scientific endeavour and for increasing the welfare of mankind. Had innovations ceased to take place, we would have probably never made it out of the stone age, let alone cater to our extravagant lifestyles.
Medical treatments are no exception in terms of innovation and are constantly evolving to improve the quality of our lives.
1.1 Earliest Medical Innovations:
The earliest forms of medical innovations took place in the Ancient Egyptian civilisation and subsequently passed on to the Greeks and the Romans. Modern research has shown that the kind of care and treatment given for injuries and afflictions then was centuries ahead of its time.Physiotherapy and heat-therapy were used to treat aches and pains and treatment included repairing and splinting broken bones. Doctors practiced amputation by using linens to reduce the chance of infection.
The ancient Egyptians also discovered the medicinal uses of many herbs such as honey, mint, willow and pomegranate, which are still used by modern herbalists. They also practiced dentistry and were fully aware about the processes of draining abscesses, extracting teeth and even making false teeth.They knew how to suture wound by placing raw meat upon the wound to aid healing and stimulate blood production. The doctors used moldy bread as an antibiotic, thousands of years before Fleming invented penicillin.
Much of the Egyptian knowledge of physiology was undoubtedly derived from their practice of embalming the dead, which allowed them to study the structure of the body.Many advancements in the field of medicine have been derived from ancient medical practices and have taken us to the period of new-age treatments, some of which are elaborated upon in this article.
2. Various Treatments of the New Age
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that is based on the theory that energy flows through and around your body along pathways called meridians. Acupuncturists believe that illness occurs when something blocks or disbalances your energy. The treatment is a way to unblock or influence energy flow and help it flow back into balance.
Commonly used for pain relief, the majority of people seek acupuncture for musculoskeletal problems like lower back pain, shoulder stiffness, and knee pain.Acupuncture is performed by putting very thin needles into the patient’s skin at certain points on his/her body. This is done to influence the energy flow, thereby curing the body of any disorder. Sometimes heat, pressure, or mild electrical current is used along with needles.
a) The procedure has little or no side effects
b) It is a useful alternative for patients who do not want to take pain medications
Acupuncture can increase the success rate of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
A stent is any device which is inserted into a blood vessel or artery in order to expand the vessel and alleviate a blockage. Traditionally, such devices are fabricated from metal mesh and remain in the body permanently, until removed through further surgical intervention. A bioabsorbable stent serves the same purpose, but is manufactured from a material that may dissolve or be absorbed in the body.
A bioresorbable vascular scaffold (BVS) opens a clogged vessel and restores blood flow. A dissolving stent like BVS leaves no foreign object inside the human body as the clogged artery can be enlarged effectively, without the stent leaving any fragments (in the form of a permanent metallic stent) behind in the blood stream.
a) Restores vessel to a natural state
b) Expands future treatment options in case of other cardiac ailments since the requirement for long-term treatment through anti-clotting medications is eliminated
c) Avoids future complications due to permanent devices, like infection in the insertion site, heavy bleeding or bruising.
While research in cancer treatments has advanced at a gusty speed, the basic motives behind the cure remain the same. Immunotherapy mimics the body’s own immune response to the presence of cancer cells by recognising the cancerous cells and killing them. Since our own immune system isn’t enough to get rid of cancer altogether, immunotherapy is required.
Immunotherapy includes various treatment methods that work in very different ways.One kind of procedure boosts the body’s immune system and provides immunity against the growth of cancerous cells. Others help train the immune system to attack cancer cells specifically
a) stops or slows down the growth of cancer cells
b) stops cancer from spreading to other parts of the body
c) helps the immune system work better by destroying cancer cells
Mammograms are X-ray images of the breast, used to detect cancerous growths in women. In case of digital mammography, the images can be captured on film and stored directly onto a computer. Since digital images are viewed on a computer, they can be lightened or darkened and certain sections can be enlarged and looked at more closely.
a) Better analysis: Since digital mammograms are stored electronically, they can be analyzed by computers as well as by radiologists. This greatly reduces the possibility of a misdiagnosis.
b) Better detailing: The images can be manipulated for better clarity and visibility, something which isn’t possible with film mammograms. This increases the accuracy of the diagnosis.
c) Lower average radiation dosage: Digital mammograms allows a larger view of each breast than the film, while using about 25% less radiation.
A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that is used when the inner ear gets damaged. Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants bypass the damaged cells of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain. They help people who have moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears or receive little or no benefit from hearing aids.
a) People with a cochlear implant achieve an average of 80% sentence understanding, compared with 10% sentence understanding for hearing aids.
b) It allows them to focus better when in noisy environments like meeting people across tables, in restaurants and other crowded places.
c) Feel safer in the world as they can hear alarms, people calling out and approaching vehicles.
d) Talk and hear on the phone.
More than 200,000 individuals are using cochlear implants.