The New Gadget Doctors Are Using To Better Understand Our Bodies

Understanding the exact mechanisms by which our bodies operate has always been a challenge, especially when it comes to issues stemming from deep inside our guts. Doctors are increasingly turning to sensors that have been designed to track different aspects of our health, from the exact chemistry of our digestive health, to our oral hygiene, and even to monitor injury recovery. The sensors being used have been filled with a bioengineered bacteria to alert medical teams to the presence of heme. When the bacteria light up from their findings, the results are sent directly to an app.

Timothy Lu, one of the sensor’s engineers, who does research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explained, “If you’re over 50, you’re supposed to go to the doctor and get a colonoscopy, but what if you could swallow a pill that tells you early signs of infection?” As of right now, the sensor first tested by the study is the size of a pen cap, which roughly correlates to a large pill. The team has only tried it out on pigs so far, but they’re hoping with a few a adjustments, they’ll soon be approved to conduct the first sensor study on humans.

In the meantime, another team is working on sensors that can aid physical therapy, especially when it comes to tissues that generally don’t heal very well from injury, like tendons. The team is working on generating a sensor that would be inserted during a surgical procedure to repair a ruptured ligament.

Unlike many other pieces of traditional hardware, the sensor is designed to eventually dissolve, but only after giving a detailed report that a physical therapist or orthopedist could use to track patient progress. The device is intended to be able to measure both the amount of strain or impact a specific movement does to the tissue.