Medical

Instrument Would Detect and Collect Biological Aerosols

Samples would be quickly collected on substrates that would be analyzed automatically.A proposed compact, portable instrument would sample micron-sized airborne particles, would discriminate between biological ones (e.g., bacteria) and nonbiological ones (e.g., dust particles), and would collect the detected biological particles for further analysis. The instrument is intended to satisfy a growing need for means of rapid, inexpensive collection of bioaerosols in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings. Purposes that could be served by such collection include detecting airborne pathogens inside buildings and their ventilation systems, measuring concentrations of airborne biological contaminants around municipal waste-processing facilities, monitoring airborne effluents from suspected biowarfare facilities, and warning of the presence of airborne biowarfare agents.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs

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Generating Control Commands From Gestures Sensed by EMG

Electrical signals from muscles involved in gestures are recognized.An effort is under way to develop noninvasive neuro-electric interfaces through which human operators could control systems as diverse as simple mechanical devices, computers, aircraft, and even spacecraft. The basic idea is to use electrodes on the surface of the skin to acquire electromyographic (EMG) signals associated with gestures, digitize and process the EMG signals to recognize the gestures, and generate digital commands to perform the actions signified by the gestures.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Medical, Briefs

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Repairing Fractured Bones by Use of Bioabsorbable Composites

Less surgery would be necessary, and full strength would be restored sooner. A proposed method of surgical repair of fractured bones would incorporate recent and future advances in the art of composite materials. The composite materials used in this method would be biocompatible and at least partly bioabsorbable: that is, during the healing process following surgery, they would be wholly or at least partly absorbed into the bones and other tissues in which they were implanted. Relative to the traditional method, the proposed method would involve less surgery, pose less of a risk of infection, provide for better transfer of loads across fracture sites, and thereby promote better healing while reducing the need for immobilization by casts and other external devices. One requirement that both the traditional and proposed methods must satisfy is to fix the multiple segments of a broken bone in the correct relative positions. Mechanical fixing techniques used in the traditional method include the use of plates spanning the fracture site and secured to the bone by screws, serving of wire along the bone across the fracture site, insertion of metallic intramedullary rods through the hollow portion of the fractured bone, and/or inserting transverse rods through the bone, muscle, and skin to stabilize the fractured members. After the bone heals, a second surgical operation is needed to remove the mechanical fixture(s). In the proposed method, there would be no need for a second surgical operation.

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Regulating Glucose and pH, and Monitoring Oxygen in a Bioreactor

Glucose and oxygen concentrations are monitored, and glucose concentration and pH are adjusted as needed. Figure 1 is a simplified schematic diagram of a system that automatically regulates the concentration of glucose or pH in a liquid culture medium that is circulated through a rotating-wall perfused bioreactor. Another system, shown in Figure 2, monitors the concentration of oxygen in the culture medium.

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Implantable Wireless MEMS Sensors for Medical Uses

Sensors designed and fabricated according to the principles of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are being developed for several medical applications in outer space and on Earth.The designs of these sensors are based on a core design family of pressure sensors, small enough to fit into the eye of a needle, that are fabricated by a “dissolved wafer” process. The sensors are expected to be implantable, battery-less, and wireless. They would be both powered and interrogated by hand-held radio transceivers from distances up to about 6 in. (about 15 cm). One type of sensor would be used to measure blood pressure, particularly for congestive heart failure. Another type would be used to monitor fluids in patients who have hydrocephalus (high brain pressure). Still other types would be used to detect errors in delivery of drugs and to help patients having congestive heart failure.

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Dehydrating and Sterilizing Wastes Using Supercritical CO2

A relatively low-temperature process for dehydrating and sterilizing biohazardous wastes in an enclosed life-support system exploits (1) the superior mass-transport properties of supercritical fluids in general and (2) the demonstrated sterilizing property of supercritical CO2 in particular. The wastes to be treated are placed in a chamber. Liquid CO2, drawn from storage at a pressure of 850 psi (˜5.9 MPa) and temperature of 0 °C, is compressed to pressure of 2 kpsi (˜14 MPa) and made to flow into the chamber. The compression raises the temperature to 10 °C. The chamber and its contents are then further heated to 40 °C, putting the CO2 into a supercritical state, in which it kills microorganisms in the chamber. Carrying dissolved water, the CO2 leaves the chamber through a back-pressure regulator, through which it is expanded back to the storage pressure. The expanded CO2 is refrigerated to extract the dissolved water as ice, and is then returned to the storage tank at 0 °C.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Medical, Briefs

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Multiaxis, Lightweight, Computer-Controlled Exercise System

This system offers unprecedented versatility for physical conditioning and evaluation The multipurpose, multiaxial, isokinetic dynamometer (MMID) is a computer-controlled system of exercise machinery that can serve as a means for quantitatively assessing a subject’s muscle coordination, range of motion, strength, and overall physical condition with respect to a wide variety of forces, motions, and exercise regimens. The MMID is easily reconfigurable and compactly stowable and, in comparison with prior computer-controlled exercise systems, it weighs less, costs less, and offers more capabilities.

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