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Telephone my heart

  1. Oct 7, 2005 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    A customer was telling me today about his dad's pacemaker. Modifications are made by the doctor by telephone with the earpiece held over the heart. Apparently the doctor uses a device that emits audio tones for various programming functions. This way the pacemaker can be fine tuned to the recipient’s particular needs, even as they change over time.

    On a similar vein, my mother recently had a spinal cord stimulator implanted. Used for relief of severe and chronic pain, it blocks the pain signal to the brain by emitting a number of patterns of electrical stimulation to two electrodes implanted along the spinal cord. The battery and stimulator are implanted in the back, and the battery lasts for six years. Minor surgery is required to replace it! Adjustments are made with a radio transmitter contained in a hand-held wand that is waved over the area of the implant. I think about a dozen different stimulation patterns can each be run exclusively, or simultaneous to some or all other patterns. Really, it is amazing technology. Without this technology, my mom can't live without IV morphine and permanent hospitalization.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2005
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  3. Oct 7, 2005 #2

    mezarashi

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    Wow. Glad to see technology at work for the better ^_^
     
  4. Oct 7, 2005 #3

    Danger

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    I thought that members of your species were born with them?:confused:

    Seriously though, it's wonderful what medical science is doing. They must have some mighty secure codes on those pacemakers to rule out tampering or accidental reprogramming.
    The thing that your mother has sounds as if it would be ideal for the GF's sister. She's in heavy chronic pain, on morphine patches (although she thinks that it's heavy-duty Aspirin) which don't help much, and has to fire up several spliffs a day for pain management. I can just imagine a 75-year-old woman getting busted for possession because it's the only thing that works. (She's going to apply for a 'green card', which doesn't mean what it does in the States. It's a government permit for medicinal weed.)
     
  5. Oct 7, 2005 #4

    Moonbear

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    My grandfather has had one of those pacemakers for several years now. I was pretty impressed when I saw it too. The best part is that my grandparents can no longer drive (they just gave their car to my parents since it has just been sitting in the garage anyway...at least they had the sense to decided for themselves that they were no longer able to drive), so weekly fine-tuning doesn't require yet another trip to a doctor's office, that would require a ride from another relative and would be an added burden to the already frequent doctor's visits for them at their age.
     
  6. Oct 7, 2005 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    You are thinking of gentically engineered cell phones.
     
  7. Oct 8, 2005 #6

    Danger

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    Sorry.:redface: But you must admit, it's a common error.

    By the bye, I mentioned this stuff to GF's neice this morning. No electrical stuff allowed near her grandma, particularly her spine. She had a stroke a few years ago and has a plate and a bunch of wires in her head. Damned if I know what the wires are for, whether structural or some electronic gizmo. These folks aren't the least bit technological, so there's no point in asking.
     
  8. Oct 8, 2005 #7

    russ_watters

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    My grandfather has one as well. Clever to do it that way, but its just an old-style modem - the kind that went out in the late '70s, where you put these little cups over the mouthpiece and earpiece.
     
  9. Oct 8, 2005 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    Really what strikes me most about the pacemaker is that it is so crude. I never would have thougt it practical but one can't argue with success.
     
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