A new optical diagnostic tool being developed at Columbia University may help healthcare providers monitor one of the most serious complications of diabetes. The noninvasive technique —called dynamic diffuse optical tomography (DDOT) imaging—fires near-infrared light at parts of the body. That which is reflected back at the machine lets it map the concentration of hemoglobin in tissue over time.
This helps providers diagnose and monitor peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a narrowing of the arteries caused by plaque accumulation that restricts blood flow to extremities and increases a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke.
In the video below, MakerBot Industries, the 3-D printer manufacturer based in Brooklyn, N.Y., shares the story of Richard Van As and Ivan Owen. The two create articulated prosthetic hands for those suffering from a disfiguring congenital disorder.
They are using a donated MakerBot Replicator 2 3-D printer to quickly build major parts of the device out of thermoplastics. The two have loaded the digital files to 3-D print their Robohand onto sharing site Thingiverse so that others can build the devices for people in their community. They are also soliciting crowdfunding through Indiegogo to continue their work.
Van As said that Robohand is just the beginning. “Maybe Robohand took the 3-D printing world by surprise with what we’re doing with it,” he said. “But if you have a look at the broad spectrum of it, I think that printing a mechanical device that can aid you when you’ve lost fingers is just a tiny little part of it. It’s a big, big picture, this 3-D printing.”
Top Image: Richard makes adjustments to Liam’s hand. Image courtesy MakerBot.
Brain disorders affect more than 30 percent of the world’s population. In the U.S. alone, one in four families contends with the devastating impacts of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, depression, stroke or any of the other numerous ways our most complex organ can go awry.
President Obama’s recent announcement to create the BRAIN initiative—backed by a proposed $100 million in funds—acknowledges the severity of these problems and seeks to find solutions for them through an enhanced understanding of the brain. The U.S. is not alone in these endeavors. The European Union announced its own €800 million ($1.04 billion) Human Brain Project earlier this year.
Israel, too, is doing its part to better understand the human brain in order to combat conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to epilepsy to brain trauma. At a gathering in San Francisco last week, neurophysiologist and neurosurgeon Alon Friedman of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev described some of the most promising research pursuits underway at the collaborative Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience. With the upsurge in research efforts and interest, he predicts that 2013 will kick off “the decade of the brain.”