Stretchable electronics make it possible to custom fit pacemakers for each patient.
Scientists have developed an interconnected web of sensors and electrodes that can monitor someone’s heart around the clock, as well as deliver tiny electrical impulses to ensure it keeps beating properly. This even applies to catastrophic events such as a heart attack, which the device can often reverse. Thanks to the use of 3D printing, each device can be custom fitted to an individual patient to ensure the best possible results.
“When it senses such a catastrophic event as a heart attack or arrhythmia, it can also apply a high definition therapy,” said biomedical engineer Igor Efimov of Washington University, who helped design and test the device.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis first had to make use of high-resolution imaging technology, and 3D-modelling software to ensure their device would fit the test subject. Part of the experiments success is thanks to stretchable electronics, which use familiar materials such as silicone, but are laid out in a way that allows them to stretch and bend without breaking.
Initial plans for the device are as a tool to help scientists monitor heart-beat changes under different conditions, although it’s highly likely that it will find its place as a preventative measure for at-risk patients, and those who have already suffered a heart attack.