Implantable from screws to breasts implants, cochlear implants,

Implantable Medical Devices

Another way
information technology is revolutionizing the medical service industry is
through implantable medical devices. For many years, people around the globe
improved human lives with contact lenses, hearing aids, and artificial joints
and limbs. With advances in technology, the focus has now turned to developing
small implantable medical devices that can alleviate other problems.
Implantable medical devices are made from metal, plastic, ceramic, or other
materials.1
Depending on the device, they can have different purposes: some are prosthetics
and replace a biological structure, while “other implants deliver medication, monitor body
functions, or provide support to organs and tissues.”2
Additionally, some devices can be installed in the body permanently, like hip
implants, or temporarily and then removed when no longer needed, like screws
for a broken bone.3
The risks involved with using implantable medical devices include infections,
bruising, pain, swelling, redness, as well as failure of the implant itself.4
Currently, there is a wide variety of implantable medical devices, from screws
to breasts implants, cochlear implants, essures,5
permanent birth control, phakic intraocular lenses, urogynecologic surgical
mesh implants, and many others. In this part of the paper, however, we are
going to focus on neural-electronic implants.

The development
of neural-electronic implants first required an understanding of how the
different parts of the neural system communicate with each other and how the
data is modified during this process in the form of electrochemical impulses.6
Neural implants are technical systems, and mainly stimulate “the nervous system
with the aid of implanted electrical circuitry or record the electrical
activity of nerve cells.”7
And as a result, a two way exchange of the information is possible on many
different levels, such as “peripheral nerves which is in the spinal cord, or
with the brain.”8
Apart from stimulating specific parts of a human’s nervous system,
neural-electronic implants also monitor the electrical responses of nerve
cells. By doing so, they can improve the senses and physical reactions and
movements.9
For instance, to bring back the intellectual function of a person, a
neural-electronic implant has to collect data from one part of the brain,
process it as our nerves would process it if they were working correctly, and
then deliver the results to another part of the brain—all the while avoiding
the damaged tissue.10
At the moment, the only option to insert an implant into a human brain is to
drill a small hole through the skull and slide long, thin electrodes until they
reach their destination deep inside the brain.11
Since the wires extend through the skull, there are high risks of infection and
internal bleeding, which could be fatal.12
Scientists, doctors, and engineers still need to figure out a safer and more
reliable way of inserting these devices into the human brain.13

According to
Transparency Market Research (TMR), implantable medical devices are going to
expand at a 4.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2016 and 2024
globally.14
This area will continue to be more innovative, creative, and common. For
instance, there are more than 300,000 hearing-impaired people around the world
who have cochlear implants.15
These devices are built out of an external part, a microphone, which captures
sounds, processes them, and uses the results to drive a set of electrodes that
stimulate the auditory nerve, approximating the naturally-occurring “output”
from the ear.16
Other popular implants include retinal implants to help people with vision
problems. These involve the use of microelectronics and microchip electrodes
that are surgically implanted into the back of the eye (retina).17
They work exactly the same as way as cochlear implants.18
However, the retinal implants use a camera instead of a microphone and drive
the results to the eyes instead of the ears.19 For
people with Parkinson’s syndrome, neural-electronic implants are also commonly
used.20
In this case, a thin electrode is inserted into the brain and connected by a
wire that runs to a battery pack underneath the skin.21 The
device activates some of the pathways involved in motor control by sending electronic
pulses into the brain.22
As a result, the device reduces or even eliminates the symptoms of Parkinson’s
syndrome.23
The new implants can also alleviate chronic neck and spinal pain for those whom
surgery cannot help. Spinal cord stimulation, or neurostimulation,24
has two parts: a generator/receiver and a programmer/transmitter.25
The generator is implanted near the spine and directs the electrical impulses
to the brain in order to interfere with the pain.26 The
program also allows for remote control of stimulation intensity.27

            Many of us do not even recognize
that neural implants are revolutionary for our society. Because of these
devices, we have the potential to create a more physically and mentally
advanced community. We are also achieving things that were impossible a few
decades ago, like making blind people see, deaf people hear, and paralyzed
people move their muscles again. 
Moreover, scientists and engineers are constantly working on memory
implants as well. However, we should ask ourselves: where are the limits? Will
we allow these implants to be inserted into a healthy body in the future to
improve memory, speed, intelligence, or sight? Can doctors be creators of a
new, better human race and is the sky the limit? Or, should we create regulations?
And, is there a possibility that governments could use the neural-electronic
implants to control their citizens in the future? These questions and their
answers sound a little bit like science fiction, yet, about half a century ago,
no one suspected that we would have access to a global network in the form of a
computer and cell phone.

 

1 “Download Product Code Classification Files”.
FDA.org/medicaldevices. Food and Drug Administration. 4 November 2014.
Retrieved 12 March 2016.

2 “Implants and Prosthetics.” US Food and Drugs Administration, 24
June 2015, https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/default.htm.
Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.

3 “Implants and Prosthetics.” US Food and Drugs Administration, 24
June 2015, https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/default.htm.
Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.

4 “Implants and Prosthetics.” US Food and Drugs Administration, 24
June 2015,
https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/default.htm.
Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.

5 “Implants and Prosthetics.” US Food and Drugs Administration, 24
June 2015,
https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/default.htm.
Accessed 28 Nov. 2017.

6 Elkholy, E. (2011). Novel neurochip design implementing
alopex for use in an automated deep brain stimulation system for parkinson’s
patients. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 211. Retrieved from
http://search.proquest.com

7 “Neural Implants .” Human Enhancement: Brain Chips,
https://humanenhancementusingbrainchips.weebly.com/neural-implants.html.
Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.

8 “Neural Implants .” Human Enhancement: Brain Chips,
https://humanenhancementusingbrainchips.weebly.com/neural-implants.html.
Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.

9 Chandler, David L. “Stretching the
boundaries of neural implants.” MIT
News, 31 Mar. 2017,
news.mit.edu/2017/stretching-boundaries-neural-implants-0331. Accessed 30 Nov.
2017.

10 Elkholy,
E. (2011). Novel neurochip design implementing alopex for use in an automated
deep brain stimulation system for parkinson’s patients. ProQuest Dissertations
and Theses, 211. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com

11 Marcus, Gary, and Christof Koch.
“The Future of Brain Implants.” The
Wall Street Journal, 14 Mar. 2014, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-brain-implants-1394839583.
Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.

12 Marcus, Gary, and Christof Koch.
“The Future of Brain Implants.” The
Wall Street Journal, 14 Mar. 2014,
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-brain-implants-1394839583. Accessed
30 Nov. 2017.

13 Marcus, Gary, and Christof Koch.
“The Future of Brain Implants.” The
Wall Street Journal, 14 Mar. 2014,
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-brain-implants-1394839583. Accessed
30 Nov. 2017.

14 “Implantable medical devices
market’s future growth.” Today’s
Medical Developments, 15 Mar. 2017,
www.todaysmedicaldevelopments.com/article/global-implantable-medical-device-market-2024-31517/.
Accessed 2 Dec. 2017.

15 Marcus, Gary, and Christof Koch.
“The Future of Brain Implants.” The
Wall Street Journal, 14 Mar. 2014,
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-brain-implants-1394839583. Accessed
2 Dec. 2017.

16 Marcus, Gary, and Christof Koch.
“The Future of Brain Implants.” The
Wall Street Journal, 14 Mar. 2014,
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-brain-implants-1394839583. Accessed
2 Dec. 2017.

17 “Retinal Implant Technology.” Fighting Blindness,
https://www.fightingblindness.ie/cure/retinal-implant-technology/. Accessed
2017.

18 Marcus, Gary, and Christof Koch.
“The Future of Brain Implants.” The
Wall Street Journal, 14 Mar. 2014,
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-brain-implants-1394839583. Accessed
2 Dec. 2017.

19 Marcus, Gary, and Christof Koch.
“The Future of Brain Implants.” The
Wall Street Journal, 14 Mar. 2014,
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-brain-implants-1394839583. Accessed
2 Dec. 2017.

20 Marcus, Gary, and Christof Koch.
“The Future of Brain Implants.” The
Wall Street Journal, 14 Mar. 2014, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-brain-implants-1394839583.
Accessed 2 Dec. 2017.

21 Marcus, Gary, and Christof Koch.
“The Future of Brain Implants.” The
Wall Street Journal, 14 Mar. 2014,
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-brain-implants-1394839583. Accessed
2 Dec. 2017.

22 Marcus, Gary, and Christof Koch.
“The Future of Brain Implants.” The
Wall Street Journal, 14 Mar. 2014,
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-brain-implants-1394839583. Accessed
2 Dec. 2017.

23 Marcus, Gary, and Christof Koch. “The
Future of Brain Implants.” The Wall
Street Journal, 14 Mar. 2014,
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-brain-implants-1394839583. Accessed
2 Dec. 2017.

24 Mehta, Neel. “Spinal Cord
Stimulation for Chronic Back and Neck Pain.” Spine Health, 23 Sept. 2016,
https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/spinal-cord-stimulation-chronic-back-and-neck-pain.
Accessed 2017.

25 Mehta, Neel. “Spinal Cord
Stimulation for Chronic Back and Neck Pain.” Spine Health, 23 Sept. 2016, https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/spinal-cord-stimulation-chronic-back-and-neck-pain.
Accessed 2017.

26 Mehta, Neel. “Spinal Cord
Stimulation for Chronic Back and Neck Pain.” Spine Health, 23 Sept. 2016, https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/spinal-cord-stimulation-chronic-back-and-neck-pain.
Accessed 2017.

27 Mehta, Neel. “Spinal Cord
Stimulation for Chronic Back and Neck Pain.” Spine Health, 23 Sept. 2016, https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/spinal-cord-stimulation-chronic-back-and-neck-pain.
Accessed 2017.