The miniaturization of the electric motor has greatly contributed to the ongoing evolution of many modern industries today, specifically those that require technological tools in order to achieve their goals. The medical industry is a notable example of this, as many areas of this field have drastically improved because of miniature motors—from the research and development of medical treatments to the invention of tools and devices that have become critical in saving countless lives throughout the world.
In fact, the miniature motor’s contributions to the medical industry are so significant and numerous that we can safely say that modern medicine, as we know it today, would not have been possible if not for the miniaturization of the electric motor.
That said, here are some of the more notable medical applications of miniature motors.
Respiratory and patient ventilation devices
The integration of miniature motors in medical devices that assist the patient in breathing—such as respiratory and ventilation devices—help make those equipment more powerful and energy-efficient without them becoming bulkier and heavier. Moreover, these smaller motors help in making ventilators more responsive by allowing them to more quickly adjust the amount of oxygen being supplied according to the patient’s needs. Lastly, the smaller size of the motors also help make ventilators quieter, allowing the patient to rest properly or to sleep without being interrupted. All of this contributes to the faster recovery and improved well-being of the patient.
One of the most time-consuming and manpower-intensive tasks in any hospital or research facility is the processing and analysis of patient samples for diagnostic purposes. In many such facilities, not only is there a large number of samples to process in any given day, every sample also needs to be examined or processed with the same level of precision across the board. Needless to say, manually accomplishing labor-intensive procedures can result in the depletion of a facility’s financial resources.
Thanks to miniature motors and other motion system and automation technologies, however, even the smallest of clinics and laboratories today can efficiently process huge volumes of samples or specimens.
What automation technologies essentially do is to greatly enhance the precision and reliability of the instruments by having computer-programmed machinery perform the movements or functions that were once done by human operators. Consider the fact that biochemical protocols involve a lot of pipetting. If laboratory personnel were to perform pipetting procedures manually, it would be virtually impossible to achieve the necessary throughput they require for high-volume tasks. Fortunately, there are now advanced machinery like automated liquid handling equipment that can help lab technicians achieve the efficiency and precision needed for critical procedures like high throughput screening, in which hundreds or even thousands of samples are subjected to various experimental tests.
Invasive biopsies involve the extraction of cell or tissue samples from the body in order to establish the presence or magnitude of a disease. While there is no denying that biopsies can help medical professionals ensure a more accurate and life-saving diagnosis, the risks of surgical complications and infections due to such invasive procedures cannot be discounted.
Modern biopsy tools take advantage of the smaller form factor that miniature motors afford them in order to get the samples surgeons need without having to resort to large and highly invasive incisions. The smaller and more precise nature of the miniature motors also helps minimize the harm inflicted on soft tissues around organs being biopsied, drastically cutting down the risk of injury and infection.
Miniature motors have also contributed greatly to the development and advancement of exoskeletal systems—a technology that assists the injured, the disabled, or the elderly to move around on their own without having to rely on another human being to support them. The smaller and more compact nature of miniature motors allow supportive exoskeletons to be lighter and more compact, giving even the weakest and most infirm patients the ability to easily wear and manipulate them. This, in turn, allows the patient to fully take advantage of the added strength and stability that an exoskeleton system can provide.
Surgical power tools
Miniature motors have also been used to a great extent in the field of surgery, specifically in the development of compact, efficient, and ergonomic tools that can save lives. These tools, which range from orthopedic drills and reamers to bone saws and surgical robots, not only offer a higher degree of precision and functionality compared to their manually operated counterparts, they also offer the same or even better level of safety when used in the operating theater.
This is thanks to how medical miniature motors are specifically designed to be sterilizable—i.e. they can undergo intense cleaning and autoclaving procedures without of the risk of corrosion and damage. Thus, surgeons can use these tools without having to worry about the patient being infected by disease due to contaminated surgical equipment.
Indeed, miniature motors have revolutionized many industries, and the medical industry is no exception. It is but one among many sectors that have enjoyed the benefits of smaller, but no less powerful, miniature motors. From how they’ve helped make tedious sample analysis more efficient and accurate to how they’ve made life-saving medical equipment and tools safer and more compact, the miniature motors have certainly accomplished a lot in advancing the field of healthcare and medicine.