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Thursday, December 17, 2009

‘Sixth sense technology’ and +Burn management+




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 Pranav Mistry with his ingenious “sixth sense” has amazed the world of technologists. What was developed over decades and appeared to be the “state of art” yesterday has been deemed “outdated” today. When Douglas Engelbart invented the mouse, little did he know that one day his mouse would lead Pranav into a new world of technology where the digital world would begin to comprehend human gestures.



For us as burn surgeons we still use the old fashioned Humby knife designed by Graham Humby while he was a medical student in Guys London hospital. Though we have mechanized it and made the dermatome, there is need for major technological advances. We need dermatomes that will automatically adjust the blades once the desired thickness is entered so that the skin is uniformly cut irrespective of the pressure applied. We need devices that will evaluate the burn depth intraoperatively and help to limit the extent of excision when coupled with the dermatome. We need devices that will continuously monitor the blood while the patient is undergoing surgery, evaluate the biochemical parameters (electrolytes, Ca, Ph, Hb levels and others) and correct them automatically.
We are lacking in skin substitutes which are presently not only expensive but also cumbersome. Besides skin culture is available in few specialized centers. Unless reliable and permanent skin substitutes are developed and skin culture techniques become easy to set up surgical management of major burn patients will always be a difficult issue. Tissue engineering and stem cells have a big role to play in burns and we are still in the ‘infancy’ in this area.
One important reason why digital technology has advanced rapidly is the large financial resources at hand. Financiers back with millions of dollars ‘tech geniuses’ whose ‘ideas’ they think will hopefully work out in the future and rake in millions. Obviously we cannot expect financiers to come forward in the burn arena where pain, suffering, human emotions and values play in the balance between life and death. This can be replaced by governments who must actively participate and provide strong financial backing for the meager few who enter as burn professionals. Philanthropic foundations must also actively participate in this endeavor. Health reforms must include burns as a major topic. More medical professionals need to be attracted to this field. Researches need to be encouraged, more grants need to be provided and international collaboration should advance our knowledge and understanding of burns.
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The ‘sixth sense technology’ in burns need to be developed to alleviate the pain and suffering and create hope for patients with major burns.

1 comment:

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