5 life-changing technologies in personal health
People want to have more control over their health – both to prevent it from deteriorating and manage it when it does. Fitness tracking technology has made people more aware and more interested in their health, which now has inspired a new wave of health-related technology that range from simple preventive gadget to equipment that can save the lives of those who live with chronic illnesses.
Wearable sensors and mobile apps have taken a step further from merely tracking your activity. Nowadays you can monitor your sleeping habits, heartbeat, blood flow and get recommendations for how long to wait before exercising again for optimal recovery, all by wearing a simple watch-like device. Most of such devices connect to a smartphone and the cloud, where the data is processed by an algorithm to present you with a holistic picture of your health. The growing accuracy and the availability of such measurements is enabling more and more accurate predictions of future diseases.
A study done by Frank Roger Defanti e Souza and Carla da Silva Santana from the University of São Paulo looked at how older adults, especially those with cognitive and age-related challenges are managing their medication regimes. They found that over time and with more than three medications involved, it gets harder to stick to a routine, and adherence rates can be as low as 27.8%.
Reproductive health/ fertility trackers
In recent years, many companies have worked on apps that use the Fertility Awareness-based method (FABM) to plan or avoid a pregnancy. In addition to general knowledge about the female menstrual cycle, some solutions base their calculations on body temperature or hormone concentration in urine, while others collect several data points during sleep.
Implanted electrical stimulators
The most known electrical stimulator is perhaps the pacemaker, which helps millions of people with bradycardia and heart block. However, there are other important electrical stimulators on the market. Because the vagus nerve acts as a direct connection between the brain and most of the critical organs, stimulating it has been a recognised way to treat drug-resistant epilepsy, depression and even obesity.
Injury prevention and recovery
A number of technologies are tackling the problems of injuries in professional sports. One of the most significant issues professional athletes face is lengthy pauses or even premature end of their career due to injuries. To prevent injuries and better plan for rest periods, wearable technologies are used to capture biomechanical data about the strain put on joints and body parts when a particular movement is performed. The wearable technologies can often connect to a smartphone where insights are displayed. This data can further be used to better plan training and optimise game performance for each player. Proper recovery is said to be almost as important as the workout itself. There are devices on market that, for example, increase blood circulation to reduce muscle soreness with the help of electrostimulation, which a study from the Queen Mary University of London found to be more effective than acupuncture or regular rest. These are just a few examples of personal health technologies, but the trend they help to highlight is clear: people are taking a bigger part in managing their own health, and it’s becoming easier and easier. The global digital health market is growing fast and the number of companies entering the health and medical wearables space will only continue to grow. This part of the health industry does not only enable self-management of health and well-being, it also has cost-saving potential by minimising unnecessary services, improving medical diagnosis, and increasing patient time with those who genuinely need it.