Mobilising technology to support dignified living
Technology – you always hear about it in the media and learn about its constant revolutionising advancements. Growing up in Kenya, I never actually got to see any of these advances being applied, specifically in the health and wellbeing sector. A paraplegic’s solution to immobility decades ago was a wheelchair and still is. I slowly realised that in third world countries like Kenya, the need for advancement in healthcare technology was much needed but it lacked the resources heavily whilst first world countries were in the opposite scenario. I think I’ve always know that in the future I wanted to do something for the betterment of people’s lives but I also knew I wanted to pursue something in the fields of science and engineering. Working on a project relating to the communities need for assistive technology allows me to pursue both of my passions at once.
I think people have gotten so used to getting to new gadgets and devices so often that they don’t realise how reliant they are on them and how important they are. Simple devices like handheld blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol monitoring devices hold the potential to save lives. All this means is that even when it may not seem necessary, everyone makes use of medical technology in some way or another. It doesn’t matter what part of the world you’re from, you are equally prone to health problems that may not have a traditional medical solution.
There’s such a great rise in the life expectancy that problems related to immobility are only going to increase and with the rise in technological advancements, a shift of focus towards the health sector could really make a change in the area. With this it is also important to realise that medical technology leads to improvement in more than just the immobility sector of health. It can lead to better diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
I hope to live in a future where the disabled not only have the right type of support, but also better forms on rehabilitation, whether this is through special devices that assist in recovery or with devices that replace immobilised body parts and restore their function. With the joint effort of investing in and understanding the scope that medical technology holds, I believe that medicine can evolve into something beyond surgery and pharmaceuticals for the betterment of people’s lives.
For my internship project, I am working with researchers at the University of Leicester designing a robotic prosthetic arm that is stimulated by the brain and eye-tracking signals. With them I am studying and analysing current research in the area of robotic assistive technology. Along with this, I am identifying and interacting with clinicians and other members of the healthcare community who have direct access to patients. By the end of the project, I hope to have a better understanding of where assistive technology currently stands in the field of medicine and the impact it can have.
Urvi is a Chakra ’16 Intern working with University of Leicester, Centre for Systems Neuroscience
The views expressed on this blog are those of the Chakra Intern