In any industry, the biggest breakthroughs create a seismic shift in how people live and things done. This could not be truer in medicine, a field where human life is at stake.
As we move further into the 21st century, here are four instances of life-changing events in medical history.
When it comes to medical imaging, there are two aspects we can look at. One is external, namely medical lighting used in examinations, dentistry, and surgical procedures. The second one is internal imaging or photographic representations of organs, tissues, and systems inside the human body.
The first human x-ray was performed by physicist Willhelm Conrad Rontgen more than 100 years ago, in 1895. As for the beginning of electrocardiogram scans and ultrasounds, they date back to the end of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th.
Before these marvelous inventions, there was no way for medical practitioners in all fields to determine what was going on inside a human being without the person having to die. Imagine a mother not knowing whether the bump inside her is a tumor or the first stages of another life. Can you picture your beloved grandfather succumbing to the effects of lung cancer because of a lack of an early detection system?
What medical imaging did to human life is far beyond what anybody could have ever imagined.
Organ Transplants and 3D Printing
There are over 100,000 people on the national transplant waiting list in the United States. Every year, close to 40,000 transplants are performed. One person can donate up to eight organs in his body to save the life of another.
To say organ transplants were not one of the most important medical breakthroughs is the biggest understatement in human history. If almost 40,000 people live in America alone because of a transplant, how many more survive around the world? And if a person can live, get married, and have children, how many generations of people are given the chance of having a life?
As for 3D printing, technology continues to allow us to dream of another day. Even though major organs such as the heart, a lung, or the pancreas can be created but not integrated into a person’s body, soon, this will also be possible. And with it, the birth of all kinds of 3D body parts such as arms, fingers, legs, and even a face.
A person suffering an accident or being the victim of a congenital physical defect will no longer have to struggle through life. Instead, she will be able to cherish it and live it to the fullest.
Do you remember the first time you went to the dentist as a child, and he took out one of your teeth? If you did, you probably recall the experience itself was much less painful than the dread of having to go through it. The reason is quite obvious. The dentist didn’t just yank your tooth out like a hand pulling a plug. Rather, he put some local anesthesia inside your mouth, waited for a while to take effect, and then proceeded to remove the tooth.
No matter how strong you think you are, would you have said no to the anesthesia if given a choice? If God forbid, one of your arms or legs is severely infected, and the doctors need to remove it, would you be able to stand this procedure on courage and guts alone?
For patients who need to undergo a medical procedure, anesthesia is a gift from heaven. You can relax, rest, and slowly drowse into a comfortable sleep. And when you wake up, you are a new man.
Health and Connectivity
In simple terms, a cardiac pacemaker is a small machine that generates electrical impulses causing the muscle chambers in your heart to contract and pump blood into your body. In years past, people having to use them had to shy away from cellphones as they could cause electrical interference that rendered the device useless.
Today, it is the exact opposite. Instead of being a hindrance to pacemakers, smartphones are a much-needed complement. Cutting-edge applications on your Apple or Android device can not only monitor the pacemaker’s functionality but also adjust its features to meet the specific needs of a patient.
There are also many other examples highlighting the collaboration between health, medicine, and technology. You can now track your workouts no matter where you are and what you are doing. And if nutrition is what you are into, modern apps can recommend recipes, look at calorie consumption, and give advice on food choices.
Four of the biggest health and medicine breakthroughs in history are medical imaging technologies, organ transplants and 3D printing, anesthesia, and the tech-medicine user revolution.
As technology continues to develop, the internet becomes faster and more accessible, and people are more connected. One can only wonder what will happen next.