Brain-Computer Interfaces: What They Mean for the Future Students of Healthcare Education

Do you remember the old sci-fi movies and TV shows that we grew up with? Do you remember how you felt when you saw Luke Skywalker, William Shatner and Arnold Schwarzenegger using out of this world technology that you thought was the creation of movie magic. What if I told you that the future is already here?

Technology has grown and matured over the last 25 years to a point where man and machine are slowly becoming one. A new and exciting area of tech that is receiving a lot of buzz right now is brain-computer interface technology.

brain computer interfacesWhat is Brain-Computer Technology?

A brain-computer interface is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an electrical device. The neurons of the brain are measured with electrodes, which then sends an electronic signal to a device such as a prosthetic leg or arm to simulate human movements.

There are currently two approaches that are yielding results in field studies. The non-invasive brain-computer interface measure activity from large groups of neurons with electrodes placed on the surface of the scalp (EEG). Invasive brain-computer interface measure activity from single neurons with miniature wires placed inside the brain.

Who Is Using Brain-Computer Interface Today?

The United States military has always been on the cutting edge of developing and using new emerging technology in all branches of the services.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, contracts worth $56 million to create electrical brain implants capable of treating seven psychiatric conditions, including addiction, depression, and borderline personality disorder.

The military is trying to overcome an epidemic of mental illness among veterans, including suicide rates three or four times that of the general public due to long combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. This is why the military is turning to neurological devices.

The Brain Chip

Doctors in Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and researchers from Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio have helped a quadriplegic man move his hand for the first time with a brain chip.

Ian Burkhart, the man who was injured in a driving accident was the first patient to use Neurobridge. The Neuobridge system is made of a computer chip implanted in the brain, a brain-computer interface and a sleeve able to send electric signals to the forearm and hand of the patient.

This groundbreaking technology proves the brain-computer interface is more than just a fantasy it is a reality.

What Does This Mean For The Future Of Healthcare Education?

What this means for the future of healthcare education is that learning is going to have to be more cross categorical than ever before.

It won’t be enough for a student to know about basic brain functions and muscle interaction. They will need to understand mechanics, engineering, and software development just to name a few categories.

The healthcare system and healthcare technology are rapidly evolving. Healthcare education must evolve with it to meet the demands of today. I can help you develop a curriculum that can meet this demand. The future is here. Contact me with any questions you may have today

The Latest Trends in Cancer Treatment for 2014: Targeted Cancer Drugs

the latest trends in cancer treatment 2014One of the latest trends in cancer treatment for 2014 is the use of targeted drugs that attack the genetic “on switch” for cancer. According to recent story on CBS News, one of these new approaches to fighting cancer is a type of targeted cancer therapy that could one day eliminate conventional chemotherapy as we know it.

Chemotherapy, as it is currently practiced, involves delivering powerful cancer-fighting drugs intravenously to the site of a tumor. While this type of treatment can reduce or even eliminate a tumor, it also wreaks havoc on surrounding healthy tissue. This makes cancer patients ill and weak. Conventional chemotherapy is like World War II era carpet bombing: a powerful attack but with a lot of collateral damage remaining.

Targeted drugs are more like smart bombs. A recent research project describes a new treatment that uses the tumors own genetic sequence to attack it. Researchers sequenced 10 genes in lung cancer patients and in two thirds of them found the “on switch” that causes cancers to manifest and grow. The new drug, an oral medication that is selected according to the results of the genetic sequencing of the tumors, turns that switch to “off,” keeping the cancer under control for a significant period of time.

Targeted drugs that attack the genetic “on switch” for cancer do not currently represent a cure for cancer. What they may do, however, is to turn cancer into a chronic disease, rather than a fatal disease. Although there may still be some adverse health effects, these drugs may keep the cancer from metastasizing, or spreading to other areas of the body, thereby allowing patients to live longer and healthier lives. Targeted drugs may hopefully work for many different types of cancer, and may buy patients enough time to allow real cures to come through the pipeline.

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