In November 2018 at the MEDICA trade fair in Dusseldorf, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) showcased a whole range of innovative medical technology. “New technology can give us effective tools to deal with the challenge of people living longer,” commented Dr Dar-Bin Shieh, Deputy Minister for Science and Technology. “Artificial intelligence, big data and personalised medicine will advance diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities – for the old as well as others – to entirely new levels,” he predicted.

Report: Sascha Keutel

Virtual anatomy and therapy

“Many people know virtual reality (VR) from movies such as ‘Ready Player One’ or from video games. Technology here serves mainly to escape from reality – but we can also use it to solve problems in reality,” explained Lewis Chang, who introduced new products from HTC subsidiary DeepQ Technology. Known for smartphones and the VR glasses HTC Vive, the firm also provides medical technology solutions.

At Medica, the company presented 3D Organon, a three-dimensional, interactive anatomy atlas that can be used in medical education as well as in therapy. 3D Organon is the first Anatomical Atlas for VR, which was developed for educational purposes at universities as well as for use in clinics. The tool is operated using the VIVE VR glasses and two controllers that the user holds in his hands. The human anatomy in virtual space seems amazingly real. More than 4000 anatomical structures and 550 animations, which convince by a detailed representation, can be accessed in three-dimensional space. “Students can move freely around an anatomical 3D model, take it apart, layer by layer, and therefore better understand the body’s spatial structures,” Chang explained. This does not replace working with real bodies, but offers an additional method to teach and learn.

In addition to purely anatomical use, the new VR solution also supports psychological therapies, for example in the area of anxiety disorders, including fear of flying. Together with Oxford University, HTC has developed a virtual trainer to replace the human therapists who previously had to accompany VR therapies. Oxford VR is a programme aimed to treat psychological disorders such as vertigo. “If you can practice crossing a high bridge in the virtual world you will later find it easier in reality,” Chang pointed out. In Taiwan, VR therapy is already used successfully.

VR can help teach medical students human anatomy and help patients fight phobias. (c) Courtesy of European Hospital

Augmented surgery

The Virtual Dissection Table “Asclepus” from the company Main Orthopaedics Biotechnology banks on the power of virtual 3D models. The table is able to depict fully anatomical structures and to also function as an X-ray machine. According to the compoany, Asclepus collects any form of X-ray images and regenerates them into 3D models just in 20 seconds.

Virtual Dissection Table ‘Asclepus’ is a one by two metre display that can be used to show life-size bodies. (c) Courtesy of European Hospital

On a display measuring about one by two metres, the table shows life-size bodies that move and turn freely, and can be taken apart. Next to generic body models that can, for instance, be used for trainee surgeons, patient-specific data can also be displayed, so the table can additionally be of great help with surgical planning, according to MD Min-Liang Wang.

The company also produces Foresee-X smart surgical glasses, introduced last year. In 2018, Wang introduced the second generation of the mixed-reality glasses, Caduceus. “They allow surgeons to display additional information without having to take their eyes off the patient to look at a screen,” he explained.

Robotic rehabilitation

A product innovation in the field of robotics was presented by Rehabotics Medical Technology Corporation. he ‘Mirror Hand’ is a mobile exoskeleton that helps to regain motor functioning lost after a stroke, as well as to give patients practical help in coping with their everyday lives. A sensor glove on the other hand records movements, which are then ‘mirrored’ by the exoskeleton, explained Rehabotics MD Jian-Jia Huang. At only 750 grams, it is by far one of the lightest robotic hand-held rehabilitation devices.