Infrared Technology and the Advancements of Medicine
Scientists, medical professionals, and tech researchers have been developing uses for infrared radiation since its discovery in the year 1800.
So far, it has been used to create night-vision goggles, to devise alternative methods of home heating, and for monitoring the physical conditions of aeroplanes. But the industry that has benefited the most from infrared technology is medicine.
Medical professionals are always looking for new ways to identify and treat disease, and infrared is proving to be an ever-useful resource.
Infrared radiation is otherwise known as heat radiation, and although we can’t see it, we experience it every day. Infrared is visible through specialist cameras that can distinguish between the different types of heat and then use this to create visual images. These cameras have proved useful in many fields: they are the basis for thermal-imaging devices such as night-vision goggles, and they help us to identify irregular heat patterns in various situations.
In recent years, infrared imaging has been incorporated more and more into medical practices, and as professionals become more familiar with the body’s natural temperature – and what it looks like on a thermal image – it becomes more useful in detecting abnormalities which they can then act upon and remedy.
The Detection of Bed Sores
Although hospitals are largely sterile environments, there are certain infections that can be picked up in this setting. If a patient is stuck in a hospital bed for too long, it isn’t uncommon for them to develop bed sores (injuries to the skin that form as a result of prolonged pressure).
Researchers are developing a way to identify bed sores before they actually form. It works by directing infrared light at the patient’s skin through lenses that protect the patient from direct contact. The device then uses readings from this light to measure hemoglobin and oxygenation levels beneath the skin, which doctors can then act upon.
Treating Cancerous Cells
There is an ongoing effort to develop a cure for cancer. This disease infects cells and can rapidly spread around the body, so there is an urgent need for a reliable cure. The issue with eliminating cancerous cells is that it is difficult to leave healthy cells unharmed in the process.
One way that the medical field is working to overcome this is by injecting nanoparticles into the patient’s bloodstream, so that these nanoparticles can locate and attach themselves to cancerous cells. Infrared light is then projected into the infected area, where it is absorbed by the nanoparticles, which then convert the light energy from the infrared into heat energy, killing the cancerous cells in the process.
The Diagnosis of Brain Trauma
When a person suffers brain trauma, they usually have to go through a large scanner to diagnose the problem, but technology is being developed whereby a doctor can use infrared to scan a person’s brain and detect intracranial bleeding or stroke damage within two minutes.
The technology, InfraScan, can assess the patient wirelessly and send the results to a Windows mobile phone, making the assessment of brain damage easier than ever.
Infrared: A Rapidly Changing Resource
Whether it’s the latest home-tech trends or new and innovative ways to save the environment, infrared technology is a rapidly changing resource that is showing no signs of slowing down. Take a look at our blog for the latest tech news, or see how you can use infrared to make your life that little bit easier.