Beyond illness: the future of healthcare technology

How can advances being made in health and wellbeing influence the future of work?

The next step from bionic limbs is neurological implants.

Once again, this is a technology that has appeared often in sci-fi media, giving humans advanced analytical capabilities, enabling them to carry out actions more precisely, allowing them to solve problems more quickly, and enhancing reflexes.

In reality, this is a field that is much more firmly in the research and theory stage than bionics, 3D printing or wearbles. But that is not to say there is nothing in production.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a technology used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, and dystonia, albeit rarely and only in cases where traditional medications are not working.

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However, further research is also being carried out on patients with severe depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or who suffer from chronic pain.

"It's not well appreciated, but over half the world's population suffers from some kind of cognitive, emotional, sensory or motor condition," said Herr.

"Because of poor technology, too often conditions result in disability and a poorer quality of life," he added, claiming, as with the physically disabled, those suffering from these conditions should have the right to be free of such illnesses.

While the technology is immature, further research could result in life changing results for people with debilitating neurological and psychiatric disorders. As with bionic prostheses, neurological implants could help these patients successfully integrate back into society and, ultimately, into the workplace.

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