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Technology and Health Care is intended to serve as a forum for the presentation of original articles and technical notes, observing rigorous scientific standards. Furthermore, upon invitation, reviews, tutorials, discussion papers and minisymposia are featured.
The following types of contributions and areas are considered:
1. Original articles:
Technology development in medicine: New concepts, procedures and devices associated with the use of technology in medical research and clinical practice are presented to a readership with a widespread background in engineering and/or medicine.
Significance of medical technology and informatics for healthcare: The appropriateness, efficacy and usefulness deriving from the application of engineering methods, devices and informatics in medicine and with respect to public health are discussed.
2. Technical notes:
Short communications on novel technical developments with relevance for clinical medicine.
3. Reviews and tutorials (upon invitation only):
Tutorial and educational articles for persons with a primarily medical background on principles of engineering with particular significance for biomedical applications and vice versa are presented.
4. Minisymposia (upon invitation only):
Under the leadership of a Special Editor, controversial issues relating to healthcare are highlighted and discussed by various authors.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Avatars in Virtual Reality (VR) can not only represent humans, but also embody intelligent software agents that communicate with humans, thus enabling a new paradigm of human-machine interaction. OBJECTIVE: The research agenda proposed in this paper by an interdisciplinary team is motivated by the premise that a conversation with a smart agent avatar in VR means more than giving a face and body to a chatbot. Using the concrete communication task of patient education, this research agenda is rather intended to explore which patterns and practices must be constructed visually, verbally, para- and nonverbally between…humans and embodied machines in a counselling context so that humans can integrate counselling by an embodied VR smart agent into their thinking and acting in one way or another. METHODS: The scientific literature in different bibliographical databases was reviewed. A qualitative narrative approach was applied for analysis. RESULTS: A research agenda is proposed which investigates how recurring consultations of patients with healthcare professionals are currently conducted and how they could be conducted with an embodied smart agent in immersive VR. CONCLUSIONS: Interdisciplinary teams consisting of linguists, computer scientists, visual designers and health care professionals are required which need to go beyond a technology-centric solution design approach. Linguists’ insights from discourse analysis drive the explorative experiments to identify test and discover what capabilities and attributes the smart agent in VR must have, in order to communicate effectively with a human being.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Pulmonary nodule detection can significantly influence the early diagnosis of lung cancer while is confused by false positives. OBJECTIVE: In this study, we focus on the false positive reduction and present a method for accurate and rapid detection of pulmonary nodule from suspective regions with 3D texture and edge feature. METHODS: This work mainly consists of four modules. Firstly, small pulmonary nodule candidates are preprocessed by a reconstruction approach for enhancing 3D image feature. Secondly, a texture feature descriptor is proposed, named cross-scale local binary patterns (CS-LBP), to extract spatial texture information. Thirdly, we…design a 3D edge feature descriptor named orthogonal edge orientation histogram (ORT-EOH) to obtain spatial edge information. Finally, hierarchical support vector machines (H-SVMs) is used to classify suspective regions as either nodules or non-nodules with joint CS-LBP and ORT-EOH feature vector. RESULTS: For the solitary solid nodule, ground-glass opacity, juxta-vascular nodule and juxta-pleural nodule, average sensitivity, average specificity and average accuracy of our method are 95.69%, 96.95% and 96.04%, respectively. The elapsed time in training and testing stage are 321.76 s and 5.69 s. CONCLUSIONS: Our proposed method has the best performance compared with other state-of-the-art methods and is shown the improved precision of pulmonary nodule detection with computationaly low cost.
Keywords: 3D pulmonary nodule detection, small pulmonary nodule reconstruction, local binary patterns (LBP), edge orientation histogram (EOH), H-SVM classifier, CT image database
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Implantable medical sensors for monitoring and transmitting physiological signals like blood glucose, blood oxygen, electrocardiogram, and endoscopic video present a new way for health care and disease prevention. Nevertheless, the signals transmitted by implantable sensors undergo significant attenuation as they propagate through various biological tissue layers. OBJECTIVE: This paper mainly aims to investigate the power loss of an out-to-in body wireless radio frequency link at 2.45 GHz. METHODS: Two simulation models including the single-layer human tissue model and three-layer human tissue model were established, applying the finite element method (FEM). Two experiments using…physiological saline and excised porcine tissue were conducted to measure the power loss of a wireless radio frequency link at 2.45 GHz. Various communication distances and implantation depths were investigated in our study. RESULTS: The results from our measurements show that each 2 cm increase in implantation depth will result in an additional power loss of about 10 dB. The largest difference in values obtained from the measurements and the simulations is within 4 dB, which indicates that the experiments are in good agreement with the simulations. CONCLUSIONS: These results are significant for the estimate of how electromagnetic energy changes after propagating through human tissues, which can be used as a reference for the link budget of transceivers or other implantable medical devices.
Keywords: Implantable medical sensors, power loss, radio frequency link, finite element method
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Limited studies have investigated the medication profile of young adult dental patients despite the high prevalence of prescription opioid abuse in this population. OBJECTIVE: This study investigated the extent and differences in medication usage of dental patients older than 18 years by age, race/ethnicity, gender, insurance status and mechanism of action in an academic dental clinic setting. METHODS: Using an automated approach, medication names in the electronic dental record were retrieved and classified according to the National Drug Code directory. Descriptive statistics, multivariable ANOVA and Post hoc tests were performed to detect…differences in the number of medications by patient demographics. RESULTS: Of the 11,220 adult patients, 53 percent reported taking at least one medication with significant differences in medication usage by demographics. Hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (21–36%), and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (19–23%) ranked the top two medication classes among patients 55 years and older. Opioid agonists (7–14%), and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) (5–12%) ranked the top two medication classes among patients aged 18–54 years. CONCLUSIONS: The results underscore the importance of dental providers to review medical and medication histories of patients regardless of their age to avoid adverse events and to determine patient’s risk for opioid abuse.
Keywords: Electronic dental records, electronic health records, medication usage, pharmaceutical preparations, demography, oral health, natural language processing
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Walking like many other actions of a human is controlled by the brain through the nervous system. In fact, if a problem occurs in our brain, we cannot walk correctly. Therefore, the analysis of the coupling of brain activity and walking is very important especially in rehabilitation science. The complexity of movement paths is one of the factors that affect human walking. For instance, if we walk on a path that is more complex, our brain activity increases to adjust our movements. OBJECTIVE: This study for the first time analyzed the coupling of walking paths…and brain reaction from the information point of view. METHODS: We analyzed the Shannon entropy for electroencephalography (EEG) signals versus the walking paths in order to relate their information contents. RESULTS: According to the results, walking on a path that contains more information causes more information in EEG signals. A strong correlation (p = 0.9999) was observed between the information contents of EEG signals and walking paths. Our method of analysis can also be used to investigate the relation among other physiological signals of a human and walking paths, which has great benefits in rehabilitation science.
Keywords: Human brain, walking path, shannon entropy, information, EEG signals
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI) show restricted breathing patterns with reduced lung volumes and capacities. OBJECTIVE: To improve breathing in such individuals, we aimed to develop breathing exercise devices using a user-centered design (UCD) and then assess the effects of these devices on breathing. METHODS: Patients with SCI were involved in the device development. Preliminary online survey participants were recruited from the community, and interview and pilot test participants were recruited from a patient self-help group. The four UCD phases were repeatedly performed. Users required fun, easy, multi-player, and safe exercise…devices. RESULTS: Seven breathing exercise devices were developed, and 10 different game-based exercises were performed. Two individuals participated in a pilot test involving a respiratory rehabilitation exercise program conducted twice weekly for 60 min/session over 8 weeks. Lung function was assessed using a spirometer. Forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in 1 s, and vital capacity showed minimal changes, whereas maximum inspiratory and expiratory pressures improved. Participants reported that the exercises were entertaining and that the competitive nature of the game-like exercises encouraged further participation. CONCLUSION: Breathing exercise programs using our developed devices can improve breathing and positively affect the psychological states and sociability of users.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Critically elevated compartment pressures after complicated tibial fractures may result in fibrosis and therefore scarring of muscles with impaired function. Several studies have shown a relationship between angiogenesis and more effective muscle regeneration. Cysteine-rich angiogenic inducer 61 (CYR61) is associated with angiogenesis but it is not clear whether it would restore muscle force, reduce scarring or improve angiogenesis after acute musculoskeletal trauma. OBJECTIVE: We researched whether local application of CYR61 (1) restores muscle force, (2) reduces scar tissue formation, and (3) improves angiogenesis. METHODS: We generated acute soft tissue trauma with temporary ischemia and increased…compartment pressure in 22 rabbits and shortened the limbs to simulate surgical fracture debridement. In the test group, a CYR61-coated collagen matrix was applied locally around the osteotomy site. After 10 days of limb shortening, gradual distraction of 0.5 mm per 12 hours was performed to restore the original length. Muscle force was measured before trauma and on every fifth day after trauma. Forty days after trauma we euthanized the animals and histologically determined the percentage of connective and muscle tissue. Immunohistology was performed to analyze angiogenesis. RESULTS: Recovery of preinjury muscle strength was significantly greater in the CYR61 group (2.8 N; 88%) as compared to the control (1.8 N; 53%) with a moderate reduction of connective tissue (9.9% vs. 8.5%). Immunohistochemical staining showed that blood vessel formation increased significantly (trauma vs. control 38.75 ± 27.45 mm 2 vs. 24.16 ± 19.81 mm 2 ). CONCLUSIONS: Local application of CYR61 may improve restoration of muscle force and accelerate muscle force recovery by improving angiogenesis and moderately reducing connective tissue.
Abstract: BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to explore the effectiveness of arch support functional insoles to prevent metatarsalgia. METHOD: Twenty-five healthy females participated in the study. A Vicon motion capture system was used to collect kinematics data of the lower limb. An AMTI force plate was used to record the vertical ground reaction force (GRF), and the Novel Pedar-X System was used to measure foot pressure while subjects wore normal insoles or functional insoles with an arch support during walking and jogging. RESULTS: With the arch support functional insoles, the…first metatarsal (FM) region’s contact area was increased and the peak pressure and time-pressure integral of the FM and second and third metatarsal (SATM) were areas decreased. This suggests a lower risk of longitude stress injuries in these areas. The ankle dorsiflexion angle of jogging with the ‘arch support functional insoles’ (RF) and walking with the ‘arch support functional insoles’ (WF) were significantly increased at initial contact and the knee and hip flexion angle of RF and WF were reduced. The peak hip extension angle of WF and RF also declined. The vertical loading rate of RF was lower, which would be beneficial in reducing the risk of lower limb injuries during jogging. CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate that arch support functional insoles can be used effectively to prevent and decrease pain and promote a suitable weight-bearing pattern in the foot for promoting the health of young females.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Dentine hypersensitivity is one of the most common chief complaints of patients observed by dentists in their practice. However, there is a lack of universal consensus over the selection of reliable treatment modality. OBJECTIVES: To compare the effectiveness between dentine desensitizer and self-etch adhesive in patients complaining of moderate to severe dentine hypersensitivity pain. METHODS: A total of 254 patients with moderate to severe dentine hypersensitivity were randomly divided into Group A (Single Bond Universal Agent) and Group B (Seal & Protect Agent) according to the treatment provided. Sensitivity was assessed by means…of mechanical (probing) and evaporative (air blast) stimuli. Discomfort Internal Scale (DIS) was explained to patients. DIS scores were recorded after one minute and one month following the application of both agents. Descriptive statistics were calculated. Stratification was done to control confounder and post stratification chi-square test was also applied. RESULT: The statistically significant difference (p = 0.000) in effectiveness between the two groups was observed. The mean discomfort internal scale score at baseline, after 1 minute and after 1 month in Group A was 3.65 ± 0.60, 2.33 ± 0.64 and 0.41 ± 0.71 respectively, while in Group B, it was 3.55 ± 0.58, 2.40 ± 0.62 and 0.72 ± 0.92 respectively. Overall, 86.6% patients observed improvement in dentinal sensitivity in Group A while in Group B only 67.7% patients reported reduction in sensitivity. CONCLUSION: Self-etch adhesive significantly reduces dentin hypersensitivity, immediately after one minute of its application and is effective for a period of one month compared to desensitizing agent.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The aesthetics and strength of anterior porcelain layered zirconia (PLZ) crowns are mainly affected by the zirconia (Zr) coping design. There is a need for a modified design to enhance aesthetics with strength. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to compare the fracture resistance of anterior PLZ crowns having modified CAD-CAM Zr coping designs (in terms of thickness and marginal collar designs) with standard Zr copings. METHODS: Fifty PLZ crowns were fabricated and divided into two groups: Gr 1: Standard Zr Coping (SZC) (control gr) with 0.5 mm thickness (Facial-F, Mesial-M,…Distal-D, incisal-I, and Palatal-P) without a collar; Gr 2: Collar Zr Coping (CZC) (test gr) with 2.5 mm collar height on M, D, P and 0.2 mm F and variable facial wall thickness. Subgroups: Gr 2a: (CZC-0.5 mm) facial wall thickness 0.5 mm; Gr 2b: (CZC-0.4 mm) facial wall thickness 0.4 mm; Gr 2c: (CZC-0.3 mm) facial wall thickness 0.3 mm; Gr 2d: (CZC-0.2 mm) facial wall thickness 0.2 mm. The fracture load was determined and analysed using One-way ANOVA and Dunnet test. RESULTS: The minimum fracture load was 927.36 ± 127.80 N observed for Gr 2c (CZC at 0.3 mm) while the maximum fracture load was 1373.61 ± 146.54 N observed for Gr 2a (CZC at 0.5 mm). A highly significant difference in mean fracture load among various Zr coping groups (p < 0.001) was determined. CONCLUSIONS: Novel Zr coping design for anterior PLZ crowns can provide better aesthetics with strength. Reducing the thickness of Zr coping in the aesthetic zone to 0.2 mm and providing a modified collar design (2.5 mm collar height on M, D, P, and 0.2 mm F) would provide strength without jeopardizing aesthetics.