Review: Philips Healthcare

September the 18th, 12:45 sharp; off to Philips Medical Systems in Best! After half an hour of cycling, we arrived at our destination. We got positively surprised since Rob Sanders, one of the founders of EIR, gave us a warm welcome. Rob brought us to the correct building, where we were welcomed by Robert Rademaker and Rick van Zon. Robert Rademaker started off with a short introduction about Philips Medical Systems. Shortly after the introduction, the group was put to work. Everyone had to write down two expectations they had about the excursion, and two questions they had about Philips Medical Systems. A big variety in the expectations and questions could be found. From ‘I expect to learn more about MRI and X-ray’ to ‘I expect to hear some job opportunities.’ From ‘How does a typical day for an electrical engineering at Philips look like?’ to ‘How does the coffee taste?’ Next to simply discussing the expectations and answering the questions, interactive discussions took place between our group and the Philips employees.

After this interactive introduction to Philips, it was time to see the productions halls. First, we were going to visit the X-ray production hall. The first thing we noted was the structured and neat way of working. Some machines were being tested on the mechanical functionalities. We also got a glimpse of the test area where the X-ray source was activated. This test area was surrounded by walls made of lead, to prevent exposure of employees to the X-rays.

Next stop was the MRI scanner production hall. First we received a short and basic introduction on magnetic resonance imaging. In the first area, we could see the RF and gradient coil. Especially the seemingly random, but apparently high sophisticated metal structures of the gradient coil were very impressive to see. In the second area, we could see the main magnets. These main magnets were cooled to 4K and were able to produce a B-field of 3 Tesla; impressive! Finally we ended up in the testing area. What we meanly noticed was the loud noise of the helium cooler and the high degree of safety measures.

The tour came unfortunately to an end and, after our group picture, we headed back to the TU/e by bike.

By Teun van den Biggelaar.

We are back with a new NewslettEir!

We hope you enjoyed your summer vacation as much as we did, but it is time to get serious again (or not). We have organised some educational and fun activities for you. You can read all about it in our newsletter called ‘NewslettEir’.

Make sure you will check out our activities page frequently to stay informed. You could also join our NewslettEir here.

Eir Newsletter #3

See you soon!

We congratulate Rob Sanders (CO-Founder of Eir) with his Masters Diploma. Rob is leaving Eir and will begin his career at Philips Health. So we probably will keep in touch. As you might know, Rob had a big part in getting things started with Eir. We thanked Rob for his time and energy invested in Eir with a nice bottle of Kapellerput Beer, as this is only sold in Heeze. The same city as Kempenhaeghe, the medical institute where Rob did his graduation.

As rob leaves Eir, the Board of Eir is also taking a short vacation. We wish everybody a nice holiday. Eir is making big plans for the coming educational year so stay tuned as we will get back to you in September.

See you soon!

EM Care And Cure Colloquium

On the 20th of June, also a very hot day in this heatwave week, the EM colloquium took place. A colloquium is a small lecture for a capacity group (in this case for the electromagnetics group) focused on a specific subject. The subject of this EM colloquium was neuromodulation. The two speakers were ir. Elles Raaijmakers and Prof. dr. Paul Boon. Paul is a doctor working as a professor at Ghent University and at Kempenhaeghe. Elles is a PhD student doing research in the field of neuroengineering focused on electromagnetics.

Neuromodulation is technology that acts directly on the nerves in our bodies. It is the alteration- or modulation of nerve activity by delivering electrical or pharmaceutical agents directly to a target area. This technology is growing rapidly and therefor this colloquium gives a great view on the nowadays standards.

Elles started by giving a presentation with the subject: “Can we hack our brains using EM fields”, a very appealing subjects since we’ve all heard about Frankenstein and robotic humans. This presentation was about a study to the direct influence of EM stimulation on single neurons. Elles explained how neurons can be stimulated using specific electric pulses and how the electrical activity of a neuron can be measured. It is still a challenging task to know the exact activity of a neuron because in order to know this, you have to put 500 probes in this 5 micrometer cell body. The conclusion is that a black box model is made for this neuron and there is, for now, no way to measure exactly how the activity of a neuron is. It is, however, possible to modulate activity of the neuron is some kind of way. A bright (hackable) future is ahead!

The next speaker was prof. dr. Paul Boon. His presentation was called ‘Neuromodulation for brain disorders, with a focus on epilepsy’. First, some facts and figures were presented with how many people in the world have neurological diseases. Did you know that this is more than 2x the number of people that have cancer? Next, different kind of neuromodulation systems were discussed. For example, the deep brain stimulation (DBS) technique can be used to suppress the tremor in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Two electrodes are implanted in the brain that stimulate a focal spot that makes sure the patient stops shaking. This technique is sometimes used in epilepsy patients as well. Next, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is used to induce currents in the brain to change its behavior using magnetic fields induced by a coil.

The two presentations were very interesting and inspiring and we now know a lot more about the neurostimulation and applications of it. We’re looking forward to such another colloquium.

Review: Symposium Robots & Doctors Join Hands

We started with a presentation about systems for minimal invasive interventions by Jenny Dankelman. As the head of the MISIT group in delft she told us about the need for simple instruments which can be used in surgery. Using mechanical interaction, needles and equipment can become even smaller, while staying strong and flexible.

There was a break after the presentation about minimal invasive interventions, during this break coffee and cake were served, the cake apparently cost €1,- a piece, while it was not that fancy. A small complaint that the organization of the symposium made about the caterer. Twenty minutes later a presentation from ir. Maarten Beelen from PrecEyes started. Maarten told about their machine made for assisting doctors in eye surgery. The robot copies the motion of the doctor, however it removes certain movements, such as vibrations, so that the robot operates even more precise. The machine was set to copy the motion in different scales for precision. The machine could imitate the movements of a doctor by 1:100 for example. This enables surgeons to do procedures that were impossible to do before, as earlier they would pierce through tissue because of the precision issue.

The next speaker was drs. Tom van Mulken, who is a plastic surgeon. He told about using robotic aid to help reconnecting the veins after a plastic incision. He told that a plastic surgeon operates with big regions of the human body, for example when someone is burned, but also in very tiny regions for example a nose correction. Whereas the last one obviously needs the highest precision.

At 11:50 the lunch break began. A nice buffet with sandwiches and soup was served. There were smoothies and they even had Fristi. During the lunch, some companies represented by the speakers were present with a stand so students were able to speak to them and to ask some questions.

For the next speaker, the room was getting crowded as this was also an USE presentation. The presentation was given by dr. ir. Benno Lansdorp who works as an engineer at Demcon medical robotics. Demcon made a robotic aid to insert needles into the human body which helps doctors reach the disease spot in one go. This positioning system is of use in minimal invasive image guided surgery. Benno said one very important thing: “As an engineer we should experience surgery as a surgeon by simply attend one. That is why Eir is trying to organize an excursion for next year.

Prof. dr. ir. Stefano Stramigioli showed a needling inserting system as well. He works for Boston Dynamics. This system was guided by an MRI scanner and searched for the right position so that the needle would be inserted to the right region of 5x5x5 mm of precision in the human body with 5 degrees of freedom. The challenge was to design a robotic arm that was able to be placed in the MRI as there could not be parts who were magnetic. They succeeded and this system is already integrated in some hospitals, though doctors still need to insert te needle themselves. Stefano also told about an automatic endoscope steering mechanism.

The next subject was about SAM – a security robot used for people with cognitive defects. Prof. dr. ir. Pieter Jonkers from TU Delft showed us LEA. This was a rollator with smart functions. It could help remind the user of making diner, set an alarm to wake up the user or even be called upon to start dancing. The robot, which had no human image, could help with exercising and detect if a person was fallen. When this happened, LEA would immediately call emergency services. LEA was also designed to let the user stay in contact with relatives and friends by randomly skype calling a person who was not contacted in a while. LEA does not accept a person walking with ‘her’ without a straight back. Most of the elderly are likely to begin walking without a straight back because they lean too much on the rollator. By breaking when this happens, LEA makes sure the users come closer and straighten their back.

The last presentation showed how people could rehabilitate by using exoskeletons. Prof. dr. ir. Herman van der Kooij, working at TU Twente and Delft, told us how exoskeletons become a bigger part in rehabilitations. Exoskeletons are fusing more and more with the human body. He showed us how nerves nowadays could be coupled to bionic arms and legs. People are able to walk again with an implant. Are people becoming cyborgs nowadays? Maybe, but Herman showed us one thing. Humans will not necessarily become a stronger species by replacing limbs with robotic aids.