High-tech for healthy living

A special exhibition in Paderborn's Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum (HNF) is demonstrating the use of state-of-the-art computer technology in medical science. With more than 100 exhibits, a third of them interactive, it runs until May 1, 2007. EH correspondent Holger Zorn was one of the first visitors

Photo: High-tech for healthy living

How would you like to determine your biological age, combat your arachnophobia when confronted with a virtual spider, or measure your optic nerve for the early detection of glaucoma and related diseases with the Heidelberg retina tomograph?

You can do all these and more at this fascinating exhibition, called Computer.Medicine. You can also compete against the marathon world record-holder on a treadmill, gain fascinating insights into the workings of the body, test your hearing, perform a virtual appendectomy or play an active part in a similar head operation.

HNF managing director Dr Kurt Beiersdorfer said: ‘Rather than focusing on a specific topic, the Computer.Medicine exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of medicine and healthcare, an area no longer conceivable without computer support.

‘The great degree of interactivity ensures that the exhibition’s contents are exciting for visitors to discover - high-tech developments are presented with high-tech support. We hope to appeal to laymen as much as to those in the healthcare sector.’

Aids for the body
Implants, artificial limbs and computer-supported processes are featured in the most spectacular section, Aids for the Body, where the world’s leading prostheses are on show. In prosthetic upper arms and forearms, the grasping impulse is relayed to the prosthesis via electrodes. Microprocessor-controlled above-the-knee prosthesis enables patients to walk and run in a completely natural fashion.

Also impressive is the robotic treadmill: People with spinal cord injuries can practise walking with the aid of it, as it helps redevelop damaged nerve tracts. There is also a Japanese whole-body robot, and an exo-skeleton which is used to help paralysed patients to walk again. A wheelchair designed especially for epileptics and those who suffer from similar conditions detects obstacles in its path and stops automatically before a collision can occur. Another spectacular exhibit is the retina implant which in future will be able to restore the gift of sight to the nearly blind. Medicine pumps and electro-stimulators will also be able to combat chronic pain in specific areas of the brain and spinal cord.

One technology of the future featured here is telemonitoring. For those with heart problems, Computer.Medicine is exhibiting a mobile phone and cardiac pacemaker capable of automatically carrying out an ECG and forwarding it to a medical centre via radio. A ‘LifeShirt’ which can measure a range of vital parameters, from pulse rate to body temperature, is also on show. Dr. Beiersdorfer added: ‘Computer.Medicine presents knowledge that assists and supports humankind and ensures its wellbeing. It is a highly topical area, offering a wide range of future prospects for employees and companies alike. To put the exhibition into a topical context, the healthcare sector already provides more jobs than any other in North Rhine Westphalia.’ Computer.Medicine is based on items loaned from Germany and abroad. Many requests to hire and stage the exhibition have already been received from institutions overseas and it is expected to tour the world for several years. Firm joint projects with Ontario Science Centre Toronto, Canada, and with Singapore Science Centre, Singapore, are already planned.

Opening hours:
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: 0900 to 1800; Wednesdays: 0900 to 2000; Saturdays and Sundays: 100 to 1800. Closed Mondays.

All texts and multimedia terminals are in English and German.
Visit www.computer-medizin.de


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