Space Medicine Gets Smart

June 22, 2001 | Source: Technology Review

Smart medical devices that help astronauts handle emergencies such as electrical burns will become part of the International Space Station perhaps as early as next month.

Further down the road, astronauts in trouble may also rely on “virtual clinics” on earth for in-depth medical assistance, which could also be used to help people on the ground in isolated places with no doctor nearby.

If an astronaut were to suffer a fracture, for example, members of a virtual clinic could use a CyberScalpel to reconstruct the area of the fracture and display the remedial steps needed to reset the bone or otherwise repair it. Images from the virtual operation could be transmitted to the caregivers in space, either for rehearsal at the Space Station or for viewing as a guide during the actual procedure.