When it comes to healthcare innovations, you might not automatically think of Canada.
Their healthcare system is known for being notoriously good at catering to their population, but otherwise, they’re most known for being the hockey capital.
It’s easy to think that, but it couldn’t be more incorrect.
You might be surprised to learn that Canada plays an extremely big part in healthcare innovations—not only in their own country but also around the world.
They have contributed to almost every healthcare field, with discoveries made by Canadian-based scientists furthering our understanding of conditions like diabetes, cancer, and even the common cold.
In fact, if we were to talk about everything Canada had ever done to be considered an innovative country, we’d be here for a long time. In this article, we’ll share with you the coolest healthcare inventions coming out of Canada. Intrigued? Then read along!
Amazon Echo Compatible Lower Body Exoskeleton
A lower-body exoskeleton is a medical technology device that a paralyzed person, or someone who cannot walk, can use to experience the feeling of doing so again.
This exoskeleton, known as an ARAK, was created in Toronto, Canada, by Bionik Laboratories.
The ARAK is created utilizing the understanding that most body movements are initiated by the upper body. This works in addition to angle sensors in the joints and feet, and inertial measurement sensors in the exoskeleton, to help the device pick up on the intended movements and steps when they are required to do so.
The most exciting thing about this design, the second generation of their lower body exoskeleton, is the new ability for patients to control the technology aid using an Amazon device.
Those working behind the scenes to create this device said it was designed this way to benefit patients who use wheelchairs and are limited to making one command at a time, such as taking a walk or simply standing up straight.
It’s easy for patients using these devices to switch between different modes, too. All they have to do is articulate phrases such as “Alexa, I’m ready to walk,” and the device will start walking immediately.
One criticism of the device at the moment is that users can only utilize the exoskeleton when they are in the range of an Alexa device as the ARAK is yet to have a microphone installed within it.
Developers are continuing to work on a solution for this issue.
Nanocrystalline Silver Wound Dressings
Silver has been known for its antimicrobial properties since ancient times, meaning it has been used in its natural form to treat wounds and other types of infections for centuries.
In 1997, Toronto-based Dr. Robert Burrell decided to conduct further research on said antimicrobial properties of silver.
It was through this research that he was able to develop a true medical innovation, turning silver into a dressing that could be universally used in hospitals everywhere.
He coined his invention ‘nanocrystalline silver wound dressings. They work by releasing nanocrystalline silver crystals, which help to prevent infections and promote wound healing.
These dressings are predominantly used nowadays to treat those with severe burns that require hospital treatment to prevent infections in the exposed skin.
Even though this healthcare innovation was created in Canada, word has spread, and these dressings are now used in over 40 countries around the world.
In McKesson Canada news, the global pharma company recently launched PrescribeIT, an electronic system that was launched in mid-2017 and allows electronic medical records and prescriptions to be submitted online.
It was available for use by prescribers and pharmacists in the spring of 2018 and has since become a popular method of filling prescriptions throughout Canada.
It offers a patient-direct approach that allows prescriptions to be transmitted directly from the patient to the pharmacy of their choosing.
This process is efficient and cancels out the possibility of anything going wrong when trying to fill a prescription.
You might be wondering how this works, so let me tell you.
When an individual orders a prescription through this system, it will create a new prescription profile.
This allows prescribers to see whether their prescription has been dispensed, meaning they only go to the pharmacist when they know they have their medication stocked.
It also allows pharmacists to send renewal requests to the person the medication is prescribed to when it needs to be refilled, lowering the risk of a vulnerable patient going without medication.
The first subcutaneous pacemaker was built in 1949 by a Canadian engineer by the name of John Hopps, based on observations completed by two Toronto-based cardiac surgeons, Wilfred Bigelow and John Callaghan.
At the time, surgeons didn’t know how to advance the cardiovascular medicine field. The two doctors mentioned above, Bigelow and Callaghan, figured it was by enabling open-heart surgery.
They believed the only way to do this was by making the body cold because doing this slowed down the heart and allowed the operation to take place.
Knowing this, the two conducted several experiments that led them to the conclusion that electrical pulses could restart the heart.
It was this information that led them to John Hopps, who created a crucial step in cardiovascular medicine.
It was the information and knowledge of these three people that led to the first implantable pacemaker being used in 1958 on a willing participant.
Affordable 3D Printable Medical Supplies
The origins of 3D printing in the medical field aren’t very clear, but we do know that the popularity of the trade started to grow in the 1980s.
In the decades following, physicians and other scientists discovered ways of printing essential medical supplies, but they were very expensive.
It wasn’t until 2011, when Toronto-based physician Julielynn Wong created 3D4MD, that 3D printing medical supplies became an affordable option for medical facilities.
This organization is a for-profit social enterprise that uses 3D printing technology to create sustainable healthcare for those who may not be able to access normal medical resources, or who have challenging circumstances.
She has created low-cost versions of the creations that were discovered in decades before to make them accessible for all.
What makes this story extra cool is that 3D4MD has also provided their low-cost medical devices for MARS expeditions!
Codrin Arsene is the CEO of Digital Authority Partners, one of Chicago’s premiere healthcare consulting firms.