Introduction to Bioengineering, Development of Bioengineering and its Specialty Areas

Definition of Bioengineering:

Bioengineering or Biomedical engineering is a discipline which advances knowledge in engineering, biology and medicine, and enhances human health via cross-disciplinary activities which integrate the engineering sciences with biomedical sciences and clinical practice. This consists of:

A) The achievement of new knowledge and understanding of living systems via the innovative and substantive application of experimental and analytical methods based on engineering sciences.

B) The development of new machines, algorithms, procedures and systems which advance biology and medicine and enhance medical practice and health care delivery.

The word “Bioengineering or biomedical engineering research" is therefore defined in a broad sense: It comprises not only the relevant applications of engineering to medicine however also to the fundamental life sciences.

“Bioengineering unites mathematical, physical, chemical, and computational sciences and engineering principles to study biology, behavior, medicine and health".

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Bioengineering as a defined field is comparatively new, though attempts to resolve biological problems have persisted all through history. Recently, the practice of bioengineering has expanded beyond large-scale efforts such as prosthetics and hospital tools to comprise engineering at molecular and cellular level – with applications in energy and the environment and also healthcare.

A very wide region of study, bioengineering can comprise elements of electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science, chemistry and biology. This breadth permits students and faculty to specialize in their regions of interest and collaborate broadly with researchers in the allied fields.

Development of Bioengineering:

Over the last few years there has been a main paradigm shift in both United States and Europe away from traditional schemes of health care in the direction of health care systems that are much more dependent on technology. This is very true in terms of diagnosis (example: body scanners); treatment (radiation therapy); and health care system integration (through information technology).

In parallel with such changes, there has been a progressive raise in the proportion of national Gross Domestic Product spent in the medical sector. For illustration, in United Kingdom it is presently between 6 and 7%, in Germany around 9%, and in the United States around 14%. This has resulted partially from demographic changes an additionally from rising public demand for better health care.

Since medical practice becomes more technologically based, a progressive shift is taking place in business to meet up the demand. The developments in science and engineering are gradually more directed away from traditional technologies towards those needed for health care in its broad sense. Though in most of the countries there is a problem with escalating costs in the medical sector, technology can contribute to economies since of falling costs of electronic or physics based components associative to those for personnel and as of technologically based screening programs.

What are the Specialty Areas?

Some of the fine established specialty areas in the field of bioengineering are biomechanics, bioinstrumentation, biomaterials, clinical engineering, systems physiology, and rehabilitation engineering.

Bioinstrumentation is the application of electronics and measurement principles and methods to develop devices employed in diagnosis and treatment of disease. Computers are becoming increasingly significant in bioinstrumentation, from microprocessor employed to do a variety of small tasks in a single aim instrument to extensive computing power required to process the large amount of information in a medical imaging system.

Biomechanics is a mechanics applied to medical or biological problems. It comprises the study of motion, material deformation, flow in the body and in devices, and transport of chemical elements across synthetic media, biological and membranes.

Efforts in biomechanics encompass the development of artificial heart, artificial kidney, artificial hip, and also built a better understanding of the function of organs.

Biomaterials explain both living tissue and materials employed for implantation. Understanding the properties of living material is very important in design of implant materials. The choice of a suitable material to place in the human body might be one of the hardest tasks faced by the biomedical engineer.

Systems physiology is the term employed to explain that aspect of biomedical engineering in which engineering strategies, methods and tools are employed to gain a complete and integrated understanding of the function of living organisms ranging from bacteria to humans.

Clinical engineering is the application of technology for health care in hospitals. The clinical engineer is the member of health care team all along with the physicians, nurses and other hospital employees. Clinical engineers are answerable for developing and maintaining computer databases of medical instrumentation and tools records and for the purchase and utilization of complicated medical instruments.

Rehabilitation engineering is a latest and growing specialty region of biomedical engineering. Rehabilitation engineers enlarge capabilities and enhance the quality of life for individuals with physical impairments. Since the products of their labor are so personal, frequently developed for specific individuals or small groups, the rehabilitation engineer frequently works directly with the disabled individual.

Such specialty regions frequently depend on each other. Often the bioengineer who works in an applied field will utilize knowledge gathered by biomedical engineers working in more fundamental regions. For instance, the design of an artificial hip is greatly aided by a biomechanical study of the hip. The forces that are applied to the hip can be considered in the design and material choice for the prosthesis. Likewise, the design of systems to electrically stimulate paralyzed muscle to move in a controlled manner employs knowledge of the behavior of human musculoskeletal system. The choice of suitable materials employed in such devices falls in the realm of the biomaterials engineer. These are illustrations of the interactions among the specialty regions of bioengineering

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