Technology has revolutionized many aspects of our life, and one area that is perhaps more important than others is the world of medicine.
Today, large tech companies, like Sandvik, are helping treat certain illnesses and disabilities that would have seemed like science fiction only a few decades ago.
How can technology help treat some of the most debilitating diseases?
Helping fight certain medical disorders is not just about pharmaceuticals and palliative care. Technology can, and increasingly will, be used to directly treat, and potentially cure, certain ailments like Parkinson's or diabetes.
Some of the world's largest tech companies are throwing their weight behind such endeavors, including the world-leading engineering giant Sandvik. One of the company's fastest-growing sectors is its medical department.
From medical wires that can help stop the trembling associated with Parkinson's disease to developing rapid 3D printing techniques and titanium powder to create skull and spinal implants within hours, such companies are changing medical intervention forever.
Thanks to these innovative approaches, helping people who suffer from physical disabilities has never been better and easier. Today, the company is researching and developing many products and components that are essential in changing the lives of many physically impaired patients for the better.
“Our products in the medical field are rarely seen since they are often a part of the manufacturing process or embedded in another device. Now we want to highlight the fascinating work happening within the medical sector and invite more people and partners to join us and help advance the world of medical innovations even further,” says Sandvik in a recent press release.
Some interesting examples of disabilities that Sandvik is working tirelessly to solve include diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, hearing loss, and physical injuries caused by accidents. By developing revolutionary solutions like super-thin medical wires, machining tools, and cutting-edge knowledge within 3D printing, Sandvik is greatly improving the life quality of people with disabilities.
Let’s take a look at some real-life examples of people whose lives have been changed forever thanks to Sandvik’s technology.
The story of Andrew Johnson: How tiny wires have helped him deal with Parkinson's disease
Andrew Johnson, also known as "Cyber AJ", was a successful lawyer, devoted husband, and loving father. His life seemed idyllic until he was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease in his mid-30s.
This unexpected news devastated him and his family. Johnson's life was changed forever.
Parkinson's, once treated as a motor disease, is now known to affect the entire brain and body. It progressively shots down the autonomic nervous system, which acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion.
Johnson thought his life was over until his neurologist introduced him to the idea of deep brain stimulation (DBS) two years later.
He was approved for DBS treatment in 2012.
But what is DBS treatment? DBS requires electrodes to be implanted into the brain to deliver impulses to the nerves. An electrical pulse generator, or neurostimulator, is implanted to produce pulses of electrical stimulation. It can be thought of as something of a pacemaker for the brain.
Both the neurostimulator and electrodes are connected up using minute conductive wires like Sandvik’s high-quality 0.1 mm thick EXERA fine medical wires.
The same wires are also finding interesting applications in other medical devices like cochlear implants.
In Johnson’s case, the intervention proved life-changing, and today, he can lead a relatively normal life.
"There are so many things I can do now that would have been impossible before the surgery. I can read without my head or hands shaking so much that everything blurred, and I can participate fully in family life — no longer reduced to being a spectator," Johnson told Sandvik in an interview.
The story of "Monster Mike": How technology helped him get back on his feet
"Monster Mike", Mike Shultz to his friends and family, has been a snowmobile racer since his youth. He went professional in 2003 and his life was the envy of many.
That was until he had a serious accident and lost one of his legs.
"I’d had a bad start during the qualifying race, so I was pushing to catch up in an attempt to make the finals," Mike explains in an interview with Sandvik.
It would cost him dearly.
"Coming downhill, I came off my sled and landed painfully. My entire knee was blown to pieces," he explained.
Shultz was airlifted to the nearest trauma center but surgeons were unable to save his knee. He recovered quickly and regained his mobility thanks to prosthetics — but it wasn't enough to save his former career, or so he thought.
After hearing about the X Games Supercross Adaptive sports competition, an annual extreme sports event with a section for people with disabilities, he knew he had to enter. His only problem? The current prosthetic limb he was using was not flexible or durable enough.
So, he decided to build his own with the help of Sandvik. The solution found was to build a new prosthetic using a FOX mountain bike shock absorber.
Called the Moto Knee, Schultz’s prosthetic component consists of a mountain bike shock and a compressed air spring that allow the knee to flex and provide a full range of motion.
He hasn't looked back since and is now enjoying his career — all thanks to his own genius for engineering and the expertise Sandvik brought to bear.
The story of Amanda Rosengren: How technology has turned her smartphone into a synthetic pancreas
Born with type 1 diabetes, Amanda Rosengren’s fascination with her smartphone is helping keep her alive. A special application, coupled with some of Sandvik's innovative technology, is helping her monitor her glucose levels.
Type 1 diabetes is a life-long disease that can be life-threatening if sugar levels are not controlled. But this can be a full-time job and especially hard to track since she was diagnosed at a very young age.
In 2013, her family heard of something called continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) that measures glucose levels 24 hours a day.
CGM devices consist of three main components: the monitor, a transmitter, and a sensor. The sensor is the most critical piece and it has to be very small — thinner than that of a needle.
It is used to measure interstitial (fluid between cells) glucose levels every few minutes using a chemical reaction involving glucose oxidase.
Testing of CGM began in 2014, and the ability to constantly monitor her glucose levels have offered Rosengren and her family new-found freedom.
Rosengren also has a special insulin pump attached to her stomach that automatically delivers the right dose when the phone app demands it to be delivered. All of these devices require tiny and robust wires to transmit electrical signals between each vital component.
This is where Sandvik's EXERA fine medical wires once again came to the rescue. Micro-technology like these wires help patients like Rosengren to take back control of their lives.
Today she is a very active, carefree, and gymnastics-loving teenager.
Who is Sandvik?
Sandvik is a high-tech and global engineering group with around 40,000 employees with a strong commitment to enhancing customer productivity, profitability, and sustainability.
They enjoy a world-leading position in many sectors. These include tools and tooling systems for industrial metal-cutting equipment, service and technical solutions for the mining and construction industries, and advanced stainless steels, special alloys, and products for industrial heating.
Sandvik is also making waves in the medical industry by applying their substantial engineering experience to develop cutting-edge medical solutions to various medical conditions. From diabetes to Parkinson's, Sandvik is helping thousands of patients around the world through their technology.
You can check out some more inspiring stories of patients who have benefited from the work of Sandvik on here.