Monday, May 4, 2009

Diabetic Monitoring Implant

One big problem for people with diabetes is having to monitor their blood sugar. If it gets too high, there are massive problems, but if it gets too low, that's even worse. Severe diabetics must always carry around with them a syringe full of insulin in case of the first, and a candy bar in case of the second. They need to avoid sugar consumption when not having a low-sugar attack, and would benefit from weight loss.
So I propose a monitoring implant. Vampirically powered, it would constantly record the glucose concentration of the blood flowing past it, harvesting a tiny amount of that to power itself. Using RFID technology, the records could be downloaded into a wristwatch-like device for display or transfer into a computer. Alternatively, it could signal the person in case of excessively high or low readings by some means that I have yet to determine. A friend of mine says to put it in the watch, which would be smart because the watch could have more complex and sophisticated circuitry.
The glucose use of the machine would treat the underlying problem of uncontrolled glucose use, and the stored information would eliminate the need for the constant finger-prick tests that a diabetic person has to undergo as it is. Since it would read continuously, the person would have a record of their blood sugar levels through the day for further management. If the person has a good memory, this could lead to the identification of patterns that would lead to better health.
As a secondary benefit, if the owner is overweight, this may lead to a slight weight loss.

2 comments:

Bernard said...

There are systems similar to this called Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs). They check the blood glucose levels of interstitial fluid so there tends to be a short lag between the results reported and the actual blood sugar levels. Some folks think interstitial blood glucose levels are a better representation of blood glucose levels in the brain, so it may be more beneficial knowing these.

There may be a way to use body heat to power these devices. The three currently on the market use a transmitter that contains a small power source. Note that they aren't truly continuous as they report a reading every 1 or 5 minutes depending on the model. But that's frequently enough to really be useful for improving diabetes control.

If you want to learn more about these devices, use the diabetes search engine to search for CGM, Dexcom, Freestyle, or REAL-time.

themadengineer said...

I suppose five minutes is interval enough, and CGMs seem to require significantly less surgery than my method.

Body heat as a powering method would only work in cold weather. Heat may be energy, but it's very entropic energy, and you can only extract useful energy from a temperature difference, not merely a high temperature.

It's truly gratifying to me when I learn that my methods are obsolete. That someone else considered the problem that I did and came up with a better solution. I may not have diabetes myself, but I know people who do, and I want to help as best I can.

May your blood sugar be controlled.

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