Batman and James Bond, move over! Real-life guys have access to some pretty incredible gadgets and gizmos of their own, with medical devices being among the hottest of these "smart" products to hit the market.
Recent inventions run the gamut from whimsical and wacky to wise and wondrous. There are exercise and fitness trackers to monitor your daily steps and calculate calories burned. Some download the information onto special web sites that tabulate and calculate and offer advice. There are heart rate monitors, and blood pressure monitors, and fitness planners that show you the path to better health and nutrition. There are watch-size water monitors that keep track of how much water you drink and micro massagers that alleviate eyestrain with magnets and acupressure.
My father lived with me and my family during the last two years of his life while he sank ever deeper into Alzheimer’s disease.
His behavior was frequently bizarre. He might emerge from his bedroom with three of my son’s baseball caps piled on top of his head but wearing no pants. When trying to participate in a conversation, he might blurt out passionate pronouncements that made no sense at all. “Ya see, the individualism is something that’s not already formed,” he would bellow. “You gotta fight...
People with diabetes can even wear a GlucoWatch, a wrist-worn device that helps them keep tabs on blood sugar levels, supplementing but not replacing -- yet -- the accursed fingerstick method of monitoring glucose.
Among the more helpful products are devices that remind patients to take their medication. This is especially important for patients with complicated regimens (like multidrug therapy for AIDS) and for those with memory problems. Some are simple, sounding a tone when it is time to take a pill.
Others, like one being developed at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, are more complex. The Disease Management Assistance System (DMAS), as it is called, has voice recordings that instruct a patient on what drug to take, what side effects to expect, and what to do about them should they occur.
If the patient doesn't press a button signaling he has taken the drug when scheduled, the device continues to beep periodically. Even better, a physician can download this information to find out how well a patient is complying.
And no more need for Mom to nag you about brushing your teeth -- a new high-tech toothbrush will beep you when it's time to clean the pearly whites, and will make sure you do it the proper length of time.
"Studies show that people dramatically overestimate the amount of brushing time," orthodontist Douglas Ramsay, DMD tells WebMD. Two minutes is optimum, he says.