Blog by Raam Shanker

Precision Medicine: Mechanical Engineering Solutions for Personalized Healthcare Devices – Part 1

In this two part blog we look at advancement in mechanical engineering solutions for personalised healthcare devices.

The era of precision medicine has ushered in a new age of healthcare, one that prioritizes personalized treatment plans tailored to the unique genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors of individual patients. At the heart of this revolution lies mechanical engineering, a field that is making significant contributions to the development of personalized medical devices. These innovations are designed to cater to individual patient needs and conditions, providing more accurate diagnostics, effective treatments, and improved patient outcomes. This blog will explore the crucial role of mechanical engineering in precision medicine, highlighting key advancements and their implications for the future of healthcare.

The Role of Mechanical Engineering in Precision Medicine
Mechanical engineering is integral to the design, development, and implementation of medical devices that are customized for individual patients. This includes creating devices that can be precisely tuned to an individual’s physiology, ensuring optimal performance and outcomes. Here are some of the primary areas where mechanical engineering is making an impact in precision medicine:

1. Personalized Prosthetics and Orthotics

One of the most visible applications of mechanical engineering in precision medicine is the development of personalized prosthetics and orthotics. Traditional prosthetics often require numerous adjustments to fit properly, which can be time-consuming and uncomfortable for the patient. Mechanical engineers are using advanced technologies to create prosthetics that fit perfectly and function seamlessly.

3D Printing: This technology allows for the creation of prosthetics and orthotics that are tailored to the exact dimensions and needs of the patient. 3D scanning of the patient’s limb can be used to create a digital model, which is then used to print a customized prosthetic. This results in a better fit, improved comfort, and enhanced functionality.
Biomechanics: Mechanical engineers study the biomechanics of human movement to design prosthetics that mimic natural motion. By understanding how the body moves and applies force, engineers can create devices that allow for more natural and efficient movement.
Advanced Materials: The development of lightweight, durable materials has been a game-changer for prosthetics. These materials make the devices more comfortable to wear and increase their longevity, reducing the need for frequent replacements.
2. Customized Implants

Mechanical engineering is also crucial in the design and production of customized implants. These devices must fit precisely within the patient’s body and function effectively without causing adverse reactions.

Patient-Specific Implants: Using imaging technologies such as CT scans and MRIs, mechanical engineers can create detailed models of a patient’s anatomy. These models are used to design implants that fit perfectly within the patient’s body. For example, custom knee implants can be designed to match the exact geometry of a patient’s knee, leading to better outcomes and faster recovery times.
Biocompatible Materials: Engineers are developing new materials that are biocompatible, meaning they do not cause adverse reactions when implanted in the body. These materials are often designed to promote integration with the patient’s natural tissues, improving the functionality and longevity of the implant.
3. Personalized Drug Delivery Systems

Personalized drug delivery systems are another area where mechanical engineering is making significant contributions. These systems are designed to deliver medications in a manner that is tailored to the patient’s specific needs, improving the efficacy of treatments and reducing side effects.

Microfluidics: This technology involves the manipulation of fluids at a microscale level. Mechanical engineers are developing microfluidic devices that can precisely control the delivery of medications, ensuring that the right dose is delivered at the right time. These devices can be programmed to release medication in response to specific physiological signals, providing a highly personalized treatment.
Implantable Pumps: These devices can be implanted in the body to deliver medication directly to a targeted area. Mechanical engineers design these pumps to operate with high precision, ensuring that the medication is delivered at the correct rate and dosage. This is particularly useful for conditions that require continuous medication, such as diabetes or chronic pain.