3D printing is emerging just as an awfully disruptive modern technology, having an impact on different sectors including healthcare. Though health care seems to be slow to adopt electronic medical records along with modern technology, it is quick to incorporate 3D printing, and with acceptable reason. This technology is enhancing treatment of patients, reducing expenses, possibly even saving lives.
Here’s a glance at how 3D printing works, and the areas in which 3D Printing has an impact on the health care.
Bringing treatment to the untreatable Probably the most exciting impact of the speedy advancement of 3D-printed medical solutions is the ability to assist patients who previously had little hope for treatment. Possibly as a result of financial challenges or the special circumstances, many people across the globe simply cannot undergo critical surgeries. At the moment, in most cases, 3D printing helps in removing those challenges.
A remarkable instance is the case of transradial prosthetics and prosthetic hands. The need for these prosthetics, in terms of the total market value, simply does not add up for most medical device companies. Traditional transradial prosthetics are quite expensive. And thousands, if not millions, of individuals who could live measurably better live with a transradial prosthetic, obviously don’t have a feasible solution.
Specialty medical-implant companies are employing industrial printers to create custom implants for patients who normally have terrific problems seeking a traditional implant solution. As the aging human population continues to get heavier, it won’t be unusual for those who have bad hips and knees to have second or maybe third procedures as their bodies — however traditional implants — degrade. Specialty implants created by using 3D printing tend to be the only way to treat many of these patients with a hope of perpetual success.
Eyes and glasses
Will 3D printing someday cure blindness? Research is undoubtedly pointing in this direction. Scientists at the University of Cambridge printed living retinal eye cells from adult rats, the very first time a person has successfully printed adult nerve cells. It is a step toward initiating treatments for retinal diseases including glaucoma and macular degeneration, the major causes of blindness.
3D printing is likewise the solution to taking much-needed eyeglasses to developing countries. The World Health Organization assess that approximately 314 million people are visually impaired, with roughly 90 percent of blind and visually impaired people inhabiting underdeveloped countries. Corrective eye care is an impossibility or perhaps shortage as a result of lack of doctors, eye care specialists, and eyeglasses.
In spite of this, with the use of 3D printed materials, researchers have designed adaptive spectacles that allow users to adjust the refractive power of each lens by themselves. This vision correction technology was tested in African populations and is actually an effective, feasible method. The glasses are long-lasting, fully custom-made for the wearer, and can be produced within an hour.
Hearing devices and ears
Forbes reported that almost all hearing aids are produced by the use of 3D printing and have been for about a decade. What had been a nine-step process that required weeks has become shortened to a three-step process that can be done within a day. The product is ultimately a custom hearing aid designed for each patient. And now, researchers are printing actual ears. Cornell University physicians and bioengineers used injectable gels from living cells and 3D printing to make artificial ears that appear and act just like human ears.
Related research on the ear has been conducted at Johns Hopkins University and Princeton University. And even British company Fripp Design & Research has discovered the way to print soft-tissue prostheses including ears and noses using biocompatible materials.
It is indeed the readiness of innovators in medical design to think outside the tradition with 3D printing that is fueling the engine of transition to health care. 3D-printed healthcare applications are all about three most important things: the ability to treat a lot of people which in the past was not feasible; better health advantages for patients; and a shorter period required under the direct care of medical professionals. 3D printing is allowing health care practitioners to treat more patients, without sacrificing results.