Have you ever thought about how 3D printing could be the answer to helping more people get organ transplants? Engineers across the globe are thinking about things just like this that contribute to the SDGs. The SDGs, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals, are 17 goals laid out by the United Nations that aim to make the Earth a better and more sustainable place to live. Goal #3, Good Health and Wellbeing, looks to promote and ensure healthy wellbeing for all.
Here are 3 innovative and unique ways some engineers are improving health and wellbeing across the globe:
The uses of virtual reality (VR) are truly endless, and engineers like Dr. ir. Isabel Van De Keere are applying just that to healthcare. She created Immersive Rehab, a type of neurorehabilitation (a process of healing or helping with nervous system-related injuries, like multiple sclerosis and strokes) that combines treatment with VR. Through the use of a VR headset, patients are able to enter a virtual world to perform rehab exercises, interacting with virtual objects. She created this after going through neurorehabilitation herself, following a workplace accident, and finding the exercises tedious with slow recovery. Immersive Rehab is not only fun but aims to improve recovery for patients and reduce lengthy referral times.
Phone App to Prevent Maternal Mortality
In Cameroon, as of 2017, for every 100,000 live births, there were 529 maternal deaths related to pregnancy. The high maternal and infant mortality rates in the country led engineer Alain Nteff to develop GiftedMom, an app that delivers medical information to mothers before and after their baby is born! Users will first message how long they’ve been pregnant. Every week after, they’ll receive texts that provide information on topics like breastfeeding, vaccines, and booking doctor appointments, which builds public awareness around pregnancy. Users can also submit their questions, to which they’ll get a response from doctors. This is extremely helpful for women living in rural and isolated areas!
3D Printing a Human Heart
3D printing is a super cool process that allows you to turn a digital file into a real object — but have you ever imagined this could be used for human organs? At Tel Aviv University, researchers were able to successfully print a human heart. While people have printed the structure of hearts before, this is the first time it has been done using human cells and biological materials. This is a major breakthrough! Around 5,000 heart transplants occur around the world every year, but it is believed up to 50,000 people are in need of them. With such an unmet demand for a life-changing surgery, being able to print hearts to transplant would save countless lives. The technology has a long way to go, as the hearts are currently small and need training to perform like human hearts, but this breakthrough is huge!
Health and wellbeing is something that every single person across the globe is impacted by. Using engineering to come up with solutions to complex problems like these, is a powerful tool that can and will change lives!