Learning to Walk

The tale of the man who is learning to walk again thanks to an implant of regenerative nasal cells has hit the headlines in a big way. Remarkable in itself, the successful treatment carried out by a team of British and Polish doctors holds out hope for the millions of people across the world who have been paralysed by a form of spinal injury.

Of course, as with any medical breakthrough the story comes with a caveat. The man’s injuries were caused by a clean stab wound, helping the possibility of regeneration and just as one swallow doesn’t a summer make, one success story doesn’t automatically lead to universal success.

But stories of this type do show the way in which pioneering work is continually going on under the radar, with dedicated teams working across the world to create lasting solutions for problems which affect millions of us. In fact, a Thomson Reuters white paper earlier this year predicted that 10 inventions which would change the world by 2025 included:

  • Greater understanding of the human genome leading to improved detection and prevention rates for degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s
  • Advances in RNA-guided genome engineering which would lead to the eradication of conditions such as Type 1 Diabetes
  • Advances in antibody production and targeting which will make cancer treatments more individual and less toxic
  • Improved management of disease thanks to DNA mapping at birth

Whilst important work of this nature continues, for the health profession generally there is a continuing drive to do more with less. Every breakthrough comes at a cost and with an aging population the strain on resources is ever upward. So when hip and knee joint degeneration means that the patient is unable to walk properly; the strain on the rest of the body can lead to multiple complications. For example a lack of exercise, and even something as simple as a regular walk can apply here,  can lead to cardiovascular disease, poor circulation, and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

An increasingly elderly population combined with the demand from the population at large to come up with solutions puts ongoing pressure on health services. Health practices including physiotherapists, osteopaths and podiatrists are not only looking for medical breakthroughs but are also taking advantage of the way in which technology can help to provide greater efficiency on a daily basis.  Areas such as the use of virtual assistants, electronic filing of records, on-line appointment and diary management and electronic payments are all under scrutiny in a drive to do more with less. And the more that the routine is automated, the greater the time available for research and patient care.

IT-related savings may not have the headline grabbing glamour of advancements in cancer care or mobility but nevertheless efficiency savings are the backbone of a drive to improve patient care. For not only do they save time and money, they also free up valuable clinical time, helping to increase the time which health professionals are actually spending with patients and that can only help everyone in the long run.