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Wireless pacemaker charging a step closer thanks to Ulster University researchers

By Allan Preston

Published 15/09/2016

Professor Omar Escalona
Professor Omar Escalona

Pacemakers could be powered wirelessly after scientists at Ulster University made a breakthrough that could revolutionise patients' lives.

At present, people who rely on medical implants such as pacemakers and insulin pumps face surgery to replace batteries or the entire device.

But in recent years there has been an increase in electronic devices that can be charged wirelessly.

The Northern Ireland-based researchers said they had created technology that meant the same could now be done for pacemakers, eliminating the need for risky surgery.

The process works by recharging an implant wirelessly through the skin.

The experts said this would "dramatically reduce surgical risk to patients and associated healthcare costs". Lead researcher and engineer Professor Omar Escalona added: "This new research will help to make significant advancements in the field of wireless power supply for the global medical device industry.

"Wearable and implantable medical devices address a wide variety of healthcare needs and range from insulin pumps and pacemaker 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 they will not require hospitalisation for battery replacement.

"This will reduce surgical risk to patients and any associated healthcare costs.

"This technology is the focus of many international research projects, however Ulster University's research is very specific to implants and has the potential to have major positive impacts on patient care and healthcare costs around the world.

"It aims to empower patients to take control of their own treatment and improve their quality of life".

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