The Next Time I Smash Myself Up, I’ll Want This Medical Sensor

Fourteen years ago I went into a wall backwards in a Formula-style race car at over 100 mph.  I broke my back, broke my shoulder blade and bruised a lung.  Other than that, I was fine.

Something like that creates many memories but a rather unusual one is how scared I was when it was time to take the turtle shell off and, YIKES, stand up without it.  I was sure the rods and screws holding me together would result in my collapsing like a dynamited building.

That’s why I’m intrigued by a wireless sensor that is in the patent process by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  If it gets marketed, it will give surgeons better imaging of a patient’s condition after an operation than even x-rays and MRIs can produce.  This little sucker would be implanted into the surgical site by being fitted atop commonly used orthopedic musculoskeletal implants such as plates, prostheses or, in my case, stainless steel rods and screws.

Once in place the sensor would transmit data wirelessly to an external receptor device.  Surgeons who use it would gain streams of accurate measurements of the healing site’s strain, pressure, temperature, and other indicators.  This information would enable them to gauge more precisely whether a patient is healing properly.

As someone who systematically scans the horizon for innovation, I know this is one of thousands of medical products ready to burst out of the lab.  But this one has real meaning to me.  As I was recovering (successfully), I sure would have slept better if I could have known, in real time, if I was healing properly.  I hope that day is coming soon.


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