The biomedical engineering industry is an area within the field of medicine which incorporates the application of different principles as well as concepts of engineering to medicinal or biological aspects to improve healthcare. Over the past few decades, there has been an increase in the demand for biomedical engineers in the industry. The increased demand has been attributed to a shift within society towards the utilization of machinery and advanced technology in different aspects of human life. Nonetheless, such a need has also had a ripple effect as it has resulted in the emergence of top trends, which are currently dictating the industry. Such patterns which are the top of the sector are aspects of improvements in assistive technology, brain research as well as tissue bioengineering. However, from the element of tissue bioengineering, 3D bioprinting has emerged as an issue essential both to the trending aspect of tissue bioengineering as well as the industry of biomedical engineering in general. Hence, by evaluating the top trends and an important emerging issue within the biomedical industry, the paper will respond to the question; how have modern advancements in the field of biomedical engineering changed the industry?
Due to the improvement in different aspects of biomedical engineering, people in the contemporary world now enjoy longer life spans than their counterparts did several decades ago. Such an element is well evidenced by reports released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, which state that the median age in the country has increased by over three years in the past decade (Bronzino & Peterson, 2014). Nonetheless, with an increasing rate of population growth, the demand for innovations within the field of healthcare has no end in sight (Bronzino & Peterson, 2014). As a result, different trends have been taking place within the area of biomedical engineerings such as the improvement of assistive technologies and medical imaging, artificial intelligence, tissue engineering, virtual reality, smart drugs, robotics, brain research as well as wearable devices.
Top Trends in the Biomedical Engineering Industry
As indicated above, different trends within the field of biomedical engineering have emerged for purposes of satisfying the demands of an ever-increasing global population. However, among the different patterns, the aspects of improving assistive technologies, virtual realities as well as brain research are three top trending factors within the field of biomedical engineering that this paper will evaluate.
Improving assistive technologies.
Within the field of biomedical engineering, the aspect of assistive technologies such as prosthetics is making significant advancements. Contrary to several decades ago, such innovations are becoming lighter and even easier to use in addition to being more advanced than they were before (O'neill & Gillespie, 2014). The level of advancement is progressing such that in a few years to come, individuals using assistive technologies like prosthetic arms or legs would be able to control such devices using their mind similar to how biological organs would function (O'neill & Gillespie, 2014). The ability for individuals to control assistive technologies using their intellectual capabilities would be made possible through the installation of computer chips in such devices consequently improving the elements of mobility as well as flexibility (O'neill & Gillespie, 2014). Moreover, as part of the bid to improve assistive technologies, the biomedical engineers are developing robotic exoskeletons which function as devices for therapeutic as well as assistive purposes. The robotic exoskeletons would supplement muscle weaknesses and mobility issues by balancing between assisting and performing body movements (O'neill & Gillespie, 2014).
The aspect of tissue bioengineering refers to the use of different cells, materials, or engineering mechanisms combined as well as biochemical and physiochemical elements for purposes of improving or even replacing biological tissues existent within the body (Katari, Peloso & Orlando, 2015). Tissue engineering entails the utilization of tissue scaffolds to generate new organic components viable for medical use (Katari et al., 2015). In most cases, the materials utilized for bioengineering must possess specific structural as well as mechanical properties, which are crucial for exhibiting normal functioning (Katari et al., 2015). Tissue bioengineering was explicitly developed for healing or restoring as well as maintaining body tissues and organs in a damaged state (Katari et al., 2015). Therefore, over the years, biomedical engineers have successfully managed to develop artificial cartilage, which is viable for replacing natural cartilage that has already been damaged (Katari et al., 2015). With advancements in the field of technology and new ideas from fresh graduates from learning institutions across the globe, the evolution of tissue bioengineering has no clear end in sight.
Medical practitioners across the globe consider the human brain as the most complex part of human beings as it controls and powers different functions within the body. However, researchers are continually making attempts to understand various aspects of the human brain by conducting brain research. Brain research is becoming diverse as well as far-reaching as it incorporates studies regarding the restoration of different functions of the brain using stimulation and neural technology (Jorgenson, Newsome, Anderson, Bargmann, Brown, Deisseroth, ... & Marder, 2015). The various developments in neural technology like implantable devices provide an in-depth insight concerning diverse diseases as well as the functioning of the human brain (Jorgenson et al., 2015). Biomedical engineers are developing machines for neural interfacing, whereby electrical impulses discharged from the brain would control a particular connected device or apparatus such as a bionic arm or leg (Jorgenson et al., 2015). In addition to controlling connected devices, the development of neural technology by biomedical engineers works towards the prevention of different health problems before they take place (Jorgenson et al., 2015). An excellent example is a neural technological device known as the "NeuroPace RNS" system which prevents seizures by detecting and normalizing brainwave activity.
The Rationale for Choosing Top Trends
The three top trends summarized above were selected based on reasoning elaborated in this part of the paper. Therefore, the first criteria used to choose the patterns were the currency of the sources picked for this paper whereby the most recent materials which incorporate information that is well revised and updated determined the trending aspects to be selected. The second rationale used to choose the top trends within the field of biomedical engineering was the accuracy of the resources found. In this case, materials which provide information which is reliable, authentic, and correct concerning different trending factors were essential in determining the trends chosen for analysis in this paper.
The third criterion utilized to decide which factors are trending within this particular industry was the expertise of the different authors responsible for writing the sources deemed as suitable to complete this paper. For this rationale, the sources written by authors who are experts or professionals in biomedical engineering determined the specific trends picked for discussion in this write-up. Last but not least, the criteria used in selecting the trends summarized above were the originality of the resources found. Therefore, materials which were either primary or secondary sources were essential in determining the top trending factors to be discussed in this essay.
An Important Emerging Issue
After exhibiting three top trends in the industry, this write-up will further depict an emerging issue within one of the trending factors relevant to the area of biomedical engineering. As discussed above, tissue bioengineering is one of the top trends within this particular arena. However, as a result of this specific trend, the aspect of 3D bioprinting has emerged as an essential issue for biomedical engineers in this industry. 3D bioprinting is defined as a process whereby different biomaterials like cells or factors of growth are combined to develop tissue-like components which look similar to the natural biological elements of the same kind (Pati, Gantelius & Svahn, 2016). For purposes of achieving success in 3D bioprinting, the technology makes use of materials referred to as "bio-inks" to create replicas of cells or factors of growth in layers (Pati et al., 2016). 3D bioprinting in biomedical engineering functions similarly to the aspect of 3D generation used in conventional arenas like the movie industry.
For instance, in the conventional industry, a digital model tends to become a real 3D object. However, in biomedical engineering, although the concept is the same, suspensions of living cells are used rather than resin or thermoplastic as is the case in the conventional industry. Therefore, to ensure the optimization of cell viability as well as obtain a resolution for printing necessary to generate a precise cell-matrix structure, 3D bio-printing in biomedical engineering requires optimum sterile conditions for imprinting (Pati et al., 2016). To successfully carry out the process, biomedical engineers follow three specific steps. The first step is known as the pre-bioprinting, whereby digital models that would be utilized in printing are created (Pati et al., 2016). The second step is bio-printing, whereby it is the process in which "bio-ink" materials are placed on the cartridge of a printer so that deposition can take place (Pati et al., 2016). Lastly is the post-bioprinting whereby the printed components stimulated chemically as well as mechanically to create well stable structures (Pati et al., 2016).
For many people, the emergence of 3D bioprinting as an issue is attributed to technological advancements in the modern world. Therefore, based on such a perspective, 3D bio-printing is considered as another factor of human curiosity with little to no importance to the welfare of human beings. However, contrary to such opinions, 3D bio-printing is vital as much as it is advantageous to human beings. As explained in this section of the paper, 3D bio-printing results in the creation of tissue-like materials which resemble the original biological components (Pati et al., 2016). Hence, by creating tissue-like materials which are replicas of the natural elements, biomedical engineers can conduct a wide range of drug tests as well as clinical trials for different aspects without having to utilize real-life animal specimens (Pati et al., 2016).
Such an aspect has therefore made it possible to improve the standards of human research by reducing issues of controversy such as violation of animal rights previously associated with clinical trials and drug testing studies (Pati et al., 2016). Moreover, other than improving standards of human research, 3D bio-printing has improved the accuracy of treatments developed for various diseases among human beings (Pati et al., 2016). As it allows the creation of exact replicas to actual human tissues, the treatments designed are more accurate with minimal side effects contrary to developments acquired based on research on animal specimens which only resemble human tissues to a certain extent (Pati et al., 2016).
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