Building a better cyborg

June 05, 2015

The bionic human walks among us. A nifty little graphic posted by IEEE Spectrum, a magazine and website published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, provides a capsule summary of the myriad ways in which implanted electrical devices are restoring vision, alleviating symptoms caused by Parkinson's disease and providing years-long, on-demand birth control.

Highlighted next-generation medical implantables include:

  • IEEE Spectrum cyborgDeep-brain stimulation devices that reduce the severity of tremors caused by Parkinson's disease and that may have applications in the treatment of depression and a number of other conditions. In a related development, PlasticsToday recently reported on how shape-memory polymers are contributing to this research.
  • The world's first bionic eye from Second Sight (Sylmar, CA). The Argus II device captures images with a video camera and stimulates the retina with minute electrodes, allowing blind patients to discern shapes and movement. The company was named Medical Device Manufacturer of the Year in 2013 by PlasticsToday sister publication MD+DI.
  • An implanted drug-delivery chip that releases a daily dose of birth control hormone for up to 16 years. The device developed by Microchips Biotech (Lexington, MA) can be switched off via remote control when the user wants to become pregnant. This product is still undergoing testing.

Check out some of the other must-have implants for the cyborg patient at the IEEE Spectrum website.

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