Implantable Devices Getting Wireless External Power Supplies – Bionic Man/Woman
Posted Sep 14 2009 10:21pm
Have you ever thought of your body as a wireless platform, well neither have I, but there’s work in progress. This is a wireless power supply, that’s right no risk of infection with running any wires. As the article states it could be used to power up all kinds of implanted devices like brain stimulators, artificial bladders and more.
Not too long ago GE was touting their new system for wireless patient monitoring and this product gets just a bit closer. Power supplies are an issue with batteries and it looks like an external solution is in the works. I have posted about implanted devices that send reports and data but this is the first I have heard of a “wireless external” power supply or battery. Right now the focus is on the heart as this is critical but just think one small devices to power up what ever we have inside, almost scary but the big advantage could be lifesaving, especially if the internal battery should fail. BD
From the website:
“TETCor provides technology to transfer electrical power to implantable medical devices without the need of a wire passing through the skin. This eliminates the risk of infection associated with a percutaneous lead.
A magnetic field transfers power from outside the body to inside. The system is suitable for recharging batteries or directly powering high current devices (such as blood pumps) 24 hours per day for a lifetime.”
Problem: artificial heart pumps need power but running wires through the skin leads to infection. Solution: invent device to transfer power without wires.
It sounds like science fiction, but reality is not far away. Texas-based heart pump maker MicroMed Cardiovascular has this month signed a licensing deal with a supplier of wireless power technology New Zealand company TetCor, a subsidiary of Telemetry Research run by Auckland University bio-engineering specialist Simon Malpas.
The technology has been years in development and has so far been used to power wireless transmitters in laboratory animals. Using it to power devices in humans is a big step, said Malpas.
"The internal battery will be there as back up so you'll be able to take the whole lot of the external parts off and have a shower and for that period be completely unencumbered."
The outer coil, the same size as the inner, would normally be worn in a specially positioned pocket in a lycra vest underneath the normal clothing. MicroMed is not the only company making these pumps California-based Thoratec is another but Malpas wants TetCor to become the industry standard for power supplies.
"And, indeed, while heart assist devices are probably the extreme in terms of power use, there is a range of other devices that could be enabled using that technology an artificial bladder, an artificial sphincter... you can have neural stimulation, brain stimulation devices that are active all the time, you can have implantable motors and moving limbs or joints doing work that need to be powered up.