Nobody likes going to the doctor’s office. It would be better if it were more like Dr. McCoy’s sickbay from Star Trek. No complicated tests, no needles, no peeing in a cup. The doctor would just scan you with a flashy-light thingie and give you a hypospray for whatever’s bothering you. Sadly, that kind of technology is a long way away, but medical research is making progress.
The flashy-light thingie is already a reality. A stylish, new wristwatch called the Basis band uses LED light reflected off your wrist to take your pulse and check other vital signs. The data this watch collects could help you improve your fitness routine or provide doctors more information when diagnosing a problem. For more information on this and similar health gadgets (including one actually called a Tricorder) click here.
When a personal health monitoring watch isn’t enough, your doctor might make you a personalized immune mouse. Doctors of the future will graft your tissue onto a specialized mouse, turning the mouse into a perfect analog of you. They can then test various treatments on the mouse without putting you at risk. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center are already creating these mice, and experts say this method could be particularly helpful for treating autoimmune diseases like type I diabetes. For more information, click here.
Of course Dr. McCoy doesn’t only treat ordinary illnesses like diabetes. He also deals with problems specific to life in space, an area we don’t know much about right now. A recent experiment in Russia tested the physiological and psychological effects of being confined in a small spacecraft for over 500 days, the duration of a trip to Mars. The Russian Space Agency now wants to repeat the experiment on the International Space Station. Only on the ISS can they test the effects of prolonged weightlessness and exposure to cosmic radiation. For more on this, click here.
No one can predict the future. We do not yet know what will happen to the President’s health care reform law, but we do know technology keeps improving. Computers get smaller, and sensors become more sensitive. Someday, while you’re on your trip to Mars, a doctor might flash a light-thingie at you and, with the help of your personalized mouse, treat you for space sickness.