Few digital trends excite people the way that 3-D printing does. With the capability to come up with new creations, or enhance current ones, professionals in most industries are looking into how 3-D printing can help them. In healthcare, it has the potential to simplify, expedite and improve medicine in many ways. Below you’ll find a list of 4 ways that the medical industry is using 3-D printing to advance patient care.
Patients with access to the necessary technology are able to create their own, affordable, prosthetic limb. A typical prosthetic can cost tens of thousands of dollars, while a $50 3-D printed hand can offer a similar level of performance. In addition to the benefit of being wildly cheaper than usual, a 3-D printed prosthetic can be completely customized to the patient. This level of customization can create more comfort and alleviate the stress of having to be constantly resized. On top of that, access to prosthetics will increase as 3-D printing is adopted. It takes less space and materials to create, giving access to those in rural areas or war zones.
2. Alternative Prosthetics
In addition to making the average prosthetic better, physicians can think outside the box with 3-D printing capability. Think about innovations such as prosthetic skin, hearing aid molds, and dental and orthopedic implants. There is also the potential for bone replications using digital scans. The surgeon would be able to create custom implants that bond with the patient’s own facial bones.
The first FDA approved medication created with 3-D printing is Spiritam. The tablets are more porous than a typical pill, which allows the tablets to melt in the mouth almost instantly. The layered construction of the pills allows for precise active-ingredient dosages, which lessens the variance in batches. It is expected that 3-D printed medication will allow providers to provide and produce patient-specific medications and dosages, completely changing patient experience and side effects.
On top of being able to create limbs, skin, and bones with a 3-D printer, researchers have also successfully implanted “living” 3-D printed tissue into test animals. This innovation is still in the development stage, but once it is approved, the wait time to receive an organ could be greatly reduced.