The history of medicine is fascinating, not least because it demonstrates just how inventive and trusting people can be. One of the earliest medical practices ever performed was trepanning. It was an excruciating procedure that involved drilling a hole into a person’s skull until their brain was visible. It was thought that it would alleviate the buildup of evil spirits in the mind that were causing a multitude of problems. The people who underwent this torture were relying upon the authority and knowledge of people who clearer had little of either. The remarkable thing about it is that people actually survived. Scientists have discovered skulls that demonstrate evidence of healing which proves that the subject survived long enough that they started to get better. As medicine developed, people became aware that evil spirits were not to blame for conditions that increase pressure on the brain and that drilling a hole into the skull is not the most effective treatment. The nature of medical science is such that it is always willing to be disproven. The frequency of news today that claims that one practice or another have been shown to be misunderstood or ineffective is startling. While medicine still has a long way to go, it is improving all the time and perhaps the greatest catalyst of that change in the modern day is technology. Here are a few examples of how tech is making us healthier:
- A recent study found that for the first time, a robot was better at performing soft tissue surgery than a human surgeon. They are not at a stage yet where they are totally autonomous and they likely never will be because many patients would fear that as able as a computer can be, it is not intelligent in the same way as a human. Just as many people fear self-flying planes, many would not want a robot conducting surgery alone. In any case, RSAs (robotic surgery assistants) represent an exciting advance in the efficiency and safety of surgery.
- Before surgery becomes necessary, patients need to talk to their doctors about what’s wrong with them. Tech is streamlining this too. Telemedicine facts are as interesting as they are exciting. The possibility of being able to consult a doctor via a video link could help patients who struggle to leave their homes. If a parent finds that their child is hurt at home, and they do not want to move them, being able to introduce a doctor into the situation digitally would be a great resource. Thanks to tech, it is now possible.
- You may have a smartphone and you’ve likely heard about smart homes, but do you know about smart drugs? So-called nootropics are used by the best and brightest in Silicon Valley. They can improve your cognitive function and help you stay focused for longer. They increase the levels of certain substances in the brain which control your neurotransmitters.
- Virtual reality is not just about making video games more immersive and fun. It can be used to help medical practitioners understand and empathise with their patients. If they have a better understanding of how their patients are feeling, they will be better able to treat them.