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Healthy Aims

Project ID: 001837
Gefördert unter

Nano scale materials and sensors and microsystems for medical implants improving health and quality of life

Von 2003-12-01 bis 2008-05-31, Abgeschlossenes Projekt | Healthy Aims Website

Projektdetails

Gesamtkosten:

EUR 22 538 278

EU-Beitrag:

EUR 14 999 936

Koordiniert in:

United Kingdom

Aufruf zur Vorschlagseinreichung:

FP6-2002-IST-1See other projects for this call

Finanzierungsprogramm:

IP - Integrated Project

Description

Smart medical implants to restore bodily functions

Intelligent medical implants being developed in Europe promise to help the blind see, make the deaf hear and allow stroke victims to regain use of their limbs.

Those remarkable applications are among several uses proposed for a series of intelligent implants created by researchers working in the HealthyAims project. They have turned to new microsystems, biomaterials and wireless communication technologies to tackle some common but extremely debilitating medical problems.

The tiny medical systems developed by the team include cochlear implants to improve hearing, retina implants to restore limited vision to people suffering from some forms of blindness, and devices that use electrical signals to stimulate muscles so stroke victims can regain movement. In addition, they have developed a variety of sensors to monitor physical activity, as well as pressure on the brain and in the bladder.

Targeting common, debilitating conditions

The devices, which are implanted in the body and exchange information wirelessly with a wearable computer or a remote base station, could improve the lives of people suffering from conditions such as stroke, blindness, deafness, incontinence, glaucoma or hydrocephalus, among many others.

Research suggests that about half of the population of Western countries – an estimated 500 million people – can expect to suffer at some point in their lives from at least one of the medical conditions targeted by the HealthAims project.

Stroke victims who have lost the use of an arm, for example, will benefit from a functional electrical stimulation (FES) implant developed by the researchers. The implant stimulates muscles with electrical signals, allowing those affected to open and close their hands and grasp objects.

Providing power and sharing information

To create electronic implants that can function autonomously, the researchers had to overcome two hurdles. One was the need for independent sources of power for the implant. The other obstacle was to design a means of transmitting and receiving information between the implant and an external computer.

To address the first issue, the project partners developed tiny rechargeable batteries as well as a self-sustaining fuel cell that uses the body’s own glucose (blood sugar) to create energy.

To solve the second problem, they developed a wireless body area network based on the Medical Implants Communications Service (MICS) standard. The standard was developed for the transmission of radio waves from an implant to a receiver worn on the body.

The wireless system can also send information to a base station up to three metres away, allowing doctors to monitor patients’ health and check how well the implanted devices are functioning, for example.

New biomaterials

Because anything implanted into the patient’s body must be protected from bodily fluids and must be designed to last, the team also worked on the development of new materials, including a modified silicone and diamond-like coating.

The researchers note that their work in the microsystems domain, particularly their innovations in wireless communications and powering tiny devices, could be applied outside of the healthcare field to other ambient intelligence systems. Adaptations of the technology could be used to connect sensors and devices around the home or to monitor the well-being of the elderly.

Ziel

In this project key microsystem technologies and communication methods will be developed that bring intelligence directly to the human, in the form of medical implants and ambulatory measurement systems, and also enable information from these devices to be transmitted out into the wider environment. The microsystem technologies to be developed can be applied to any generic Ambient Intelligent system comprising sensors, actuators, an intelligent processor and a wiring loom. The medical applications have been chosen for 2 reasons. Firstly, they will progress the existing State of the Art in Microsystems in terms of size, reliability, and power constraints far more than many other application sectors. In addition, there will be a direct positive impact into the health of EU citizens. The overall objective is to develop the technologies that go to make up a microsystem, and then produce specific medical devices to exploit these technologies. The 4 year project, with 27 partners, is structured with the focus on the microsystem technology development, most of which does not include silicon. This is seen as crucial if complete microsystems are to be realised in the coming few years. This project includes participants from all of the disciplines necessary to produce a complete generic microsystem. The result will be a range of core technologies and medical devices utilising these core technologies. Intelligence will be given back to people where part of their own internal system has failed. Quality of life will be improved for millions of EU citizens and the long term cost of treating people will reduce significantly. The resulting final medical products include cochlear and retina implants, nerve stimulation, bladder control and pressure monitoring systems. It is estimated from the available statistics that around 50% of the western population i.e. around 500 million citizens, will suffer from at least one of the health problems targeted in this project.

Verwandte Informationen

Kontaktangaben des Koordinators

Diana HODGINS, (Coordinator)
Tel.: +44-1438-822822
Fax: +44-1438-822811
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