Needles have scared and scarred many since their youth, but few knew that fear was an actual condition. Trypanophobia, or fear of needles, affects over 31 million Americans today. Sufferers of Trypanophobia dread medical care and are likely to experience elevated heart rates and blood pressure in the time leading up to a procedure, with a dangerously sharp drop beforehand. With our reliance on needles for getting vital remedies into the human body, Trypanophobia has been a major problem. Fortunately, researchers at MIT have engineered a new method for getting patients the juice they need: jet injection.
MIT professor and mechanical engineer Ian Hunter headed the breakthrough. The device uses a magnet, coiled wire, and an electric current to shoot an extremely concentrated beam of medicine directly through our skin. No needle required. The current is adjustable and is sent into the device through the coils, causing the magnet to fire like a piston and shoot the medicinal molecules into a desired region. The stream is so concentrated that the sensation is not even felt. Hunter compares this phenomenon to our inability to feel the initial penetration of a mosquito bite. Those suffering from needlephobia can breathe easy.
Though similar inventions have been devised before, MIT’s version of the needless jet injector is special because of it’s amazing flexibility. It’s the first device of it’s kind that features the ability to control the speed and depth of the injected dose. By applying a greater or weaker current, the magnetic piston reacts at different speeds, enabling depths of up to 16 mm and speeds approaching the sound barrier. Not only that, but the mechanics of the invention enable not only liquids to be injected, but powders. A final benefit is the elimination of needle-stick injuries (Doctors pricking themselves) that occur over 385,000 times per year.
Drug delivery via jet injector is great news for Trypanophobes and heroin addicts alike. This device will enable us to receive direct injections in sensitive areas such as our eyes and ears. It’s only a matter of time before we can receive all of the meds we need via jet injection. A personal jet injector would be fantastic for the self administration of insulin or an epipen. It will be fascinating to see if this form of injection technology translates over to IV’s or even replaces pertinent forms of medicine normally administered orally.
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