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Ulster University to revolutionise implantable medical device care

Currently, patients with such devices have to undergo surgery or other invasive procedures to either recharge the batteries or replace the entire device before the batteries expire.

Ulster University’s team of engineering researchers, in collaboration with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, is creating highly innovative wireless energy technology, which will mean that patients can simply recharge the implant wirelessly through the skin. This will dramatically reduce surgical risk to patients and associated healthcare costs across the globe.

Ulster University is carrying out the research as part of a wider collaboration with Chonbuk National University (CBNU) in South Korea, with joint funding from the Medical Research Council (UK) and the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (South Korea), in a successful MRC-KHIDI Partnering Award.

Lead researcher and engineer Prof Omar Escalona from Ulster University said: “Wearable and implantable medical devices address a wide variety of healthcare needs and range from insulin pumps and pacemakers to cochlear implants and artificial heart pumps, all of which depend on a continuous and sustainable energy supply.

“The University’s compact wireless charging technology will eliminate the need for a driveline through the skin or use of conventional batteries that require changing when depleted. This means that patients are less likely to contract infection at the skin site of the driveline and will not require hospitalisation for battery replacement. This will reduce surgical risk to patients and any associated healthcare costs.”

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