As society entered a new decade, “ten-year challenges” filled social media, allowing users to look back at the improvements and alterations made since 2009. Outside of the social world, so many new discoveries have emerged in the past decade in science, technology and medication. In this age of wonderful new technology, the medical industry is finding more innovative ways to save a life. Here are six of the most important medical discoveries from the past decade.
1. Artificial Food
While this seems to come from the pages of a science fiction novel, scientists are actively attempting to solve food shortage problems through artificial foods. If this works, it could potentially save natural resources and provide dependable food for millions. Recent experiments from the Cultured Beef Project, involved removing muscle cells from a cow and growing tissue in a Petri dish. These few starter cells can turn into artificial beef for the masses. Currently, companies across the world are working to duplicate this success with chickens and fish.
2. Artificial Reality
Different types of artificial reality – augmented and virtual, have all gained more credibility in the medical field. Scientists now determine how to work alongside expanding technology. Augmented reality (AR) allows users to project images onto their existing environment. This AR technology is currently used in the operating room, projecting live-saving information to surgeons before they make their first incision. Virtual reality (VR) works the opposite way, and shuts the user out of their current environment. Medical residencies are currently using This technology, allowing a future generation of doctors to rehearse procedures and visualize anatomy.
3. 3-D Printing
Over the past decade, 3-D printing took off across a variety of industries, from product design to art. Now, the medical field is using it. Currently, these printers are able to create implants and other prosthetics. Because 3-D printing involves digital mapping, these prosthetics are designed to be an exact match to each persons’s measurements. More recently, scientists have begun to research 3-D bioprinting. The printing of living human tissue in order to one day be able to print working organs for those in need of transplants.
4. Health Wearables
As cell phone technology advances, so does its health tracking services. Currently, smartphones track steps, sleep, fitness and heartbeat. In 2018, Apple released their newest Apple Watch which came equipped with an ECG to constantly monitor the user’s heart rhythms. This life-saving watch can detect dangerous heart conditions earlier than usual. This market is expected to expand over the next decade with new health trackers disguised as useful apparel.
Telemedicine has been on the rise across a variety of both specialist and procedural doctors. And this trend is not expected to stop any time soon. In fact, recent projections believe that telehealth will be a $113.1 billion industry by 2025. Currently, video chat dominates the industry, which allows patients and doctors to get in contact from virtually anywhere. This communication reduces stress for patients. It also allows medical providers opportunities to diagnose and treat more people. Additionally, teletherapy has also been on the rise with the introduction of apps such as BetterHelp and TalkSpace. These chat-based apps offer live mental health help from qualified professionals, at a fraction of the cost.
6. Brain-Computer Interfaces
On October 4, 2019, BBC reported that a 30-year-old paralyzed man, moved four of his limbs with the help of a mind-reading exoskeleton. This accomplishment is one of the most recent attempts in brain-computer interfaces (BCI). In the next few years, scientists are hoping to expand this technology to fully control specific parts of the brain. This could mean revolutionary steps in helping paralyzed people or those with Parkinson’s disease. By implanting technology into the brain and translating brainwaves into instructions, the sky really becomes the limit. In the future, BCI could be used to fully overcome eyesight or hearing loss. In the next decade, more cases are certain to arise.
It’s no secret that the world has changed exponentially since 2009. These few medical trends only scratch the surface of the discoveries of the past decade. From gene-editing to robotic surgery, mind-boggling technology will fill the next decade. Additionally, looking to the future brings new possibilities for technology, as well as new prospects for those who previously had no hope.