An elephant trunk-inspired robotic arm design: The Bionic Handling Assistant from Festo of Esslingen, Germany, is a working concept inspired by the anatomy of an elephant’s trunk. Festo’s goal in developing the BHA was to study and improve the interaction between humans and robots. The arm is based on the elephant trunk’s hierarchical system of muscles and movement patterns developed over millions of years of evolution. Festo engineers analyzed the structure and function of trunk, combining that analysis with new manufacturing technologies to developed an entirely new bio-mechatronic handling system.
Northeastern students invent next-gen medical alert bracelet: Northeastern University seniors took a family tragedy and turned it into a monitoring device that could one day help seniors who fall down with no one around to help. Max Flaherty’s aunt had a medical alert bracelet, but that didn’t help her when she tumbled down some stairs, was knocked unconscious with no-one around to help and died. So when Flaherty and other members of his group in a senior design class at Northeastern University met over pizza last summer to decide on a project, they used the failings of Max’s aunt’s bracelet as a starting point. Over the year, through weekly meetings with their adviser Professor Charles DiMarzio, they came up with a bracelet that will call for help after a fall and send biomedical data to emergency responders.
FDA OKs Flexuspine arthroplasty IDE study: Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Flexuspine received conditional approval from the Food & Drug Administration for a feasibility study of its Functional Spine Unit under an investigational device exemption. The total spine arthroplasty system has two components: A cobalt-chrome interbody core and a posterior dynamic resistance dampener. It’s designed to restore the motion and natural kinematics of the affected vertebrae, and to provide an alternative to spinal fusion. The study will enroll spinal fusion candidates with degenerative disc disease and facet compromise.
Neuroimaging the female orgasm: Scientists at Rutgers University are studying the female orgasm using functional MRI. During the experiment, women masturbate with the help of a dildo inside the fMRI machine so the team can study which areas of the brain are activated by arousal. First they map the cervix, uterus and clitoris to regions of the brain to create a sort of sexual homunculus. Then the women get 10 minutes to stimulate themselves to orgasm, which is signaled to the researchers by raising a hand. The researchers have ideas in mind for therapeutic practice by putting people who are having trouble achieving orgasm into the fMRI and giving neurobiofeedback.
A weekly roundup of new developments in medical technology, by MedGadget.com.