Nearly a thousand of the brightest minds in medical R&D convened in San Diego last week for the TEDMED conference. This for-profit event isn’t directly owned by the non-profit TED organization — so famous for its conference devoted to new ideas in technology, entertainment and design — but its management team members are reportedly, er, TEDsters, and what we discovered at TEDMED was interest-piquing to a TEDian degree.
Innovative new medical gadgets and other bleeding-edge healthcare hardware ran rampant. Here are some of the more, well, unusual pieces of technology we uncovered after scouring meeting rooms and watching dozens of lectures.
Xiaflex Injection Trainer
The Chamberlain group makes more than 500 lifelike rubber dummy models that are used to train doctors. One of its most amusing creations is a disembodied hand that allows doctors to practice injecting an enzyme into diseased tendons. You see, quite a few elderly people develop a condition called Dupuytren's contracture, which causes one’s fingers to permanently curl. If you inject a bit of a collagenase enzyme into the right spot, it fixes the problem — but if you inject the enzyme into the wrong part of the hand, a whole new set of problems develops.
Enter the Xiaflex injection trainer. The dummy has a set of lights: Green will light up if the needle hits the right spot. Red and yellow display if you’re off the mark. It’s a lot like playing Operation, the board game, but with real needles.