A strong technology and innovation sector has many benefits for the citizens of Edmonton — from more streamlined transit systems to more job opportunities. One area of benefit that might not be obvious is health and medicine. But, lucky for us, we have one of the top-five Canadian research universities and hospitals, the University of Alberta, right in our city. On top of that, there are plenty of tech startups around the city that are focusing on keeping Edmontonians healthy.
The University of Alberta has always had a strong focus on research. In the last few years alone, UAlberta has made huge technological strides in a variety of fields — and medicine is one of the frontrunners. One example is the prosthetics made by the University of Alberta’s SMART (Sensory Motor Adaptive Rehabilitation Technology) Network researchers. In 2017, these researchers created what they called the most advanced prosthetic arm in the world, which moves almost exactly like a real arm. It also analyzes data from the wearer and can predict what movement the person will make next. It’s been a huge step towards making people with disabilities lives easier.
Though not made in Edmonton, the University of Alberta Hospital’s Gamma Knife is a prime example of Edmonton’s early adoption of technology as well. The state-of-the-art machine is used to carry out brain surgeries using gamma rays — all without so much as an incision. It allows for painless and less risky procedures and cuts down surgery time to between 30 and 90 minutes. One of the other bonuses of the Gamma Knife is that recovery time is almost nullified, with most patients being able to return home the same day. So far, approximately 250 people, or 15% of brain surgery patients in the last year, have gone through treatment using the device.
Outside of the University of Alberta, there are plenty of other initiatives working in Edmonton to keep our city healthy and happy. DrugBank.ca is one example of such a company. They have been working to compile a website database of pharmaceuticals that’s freely available to the public. The website has tons of information about the chemical make-up of drugs and how they work and is a very useful guide for anyone wanting to learn more about what they’ve been prescribed. It’s also a useful tool for students going into med school.
And don’t forget about Fedora Pharmaceuticals Inc., an Edmonton based company whose goal it is to discover and develop microbial agents that work against multi-drug resistant pathogens. This is a vital innovation in a world where superbugs and drug-resistant diseases are real dangers.
Keeping Edmontonians healthy is an important factor for the growth of our city and, luckily for us, there are already plenty of companies in Edmonton aimed at doing exactly that. From small tech firms all the way up to the University of Alberta Hospital, medicinal technology is running wild in our city. Many of these are focused on education and prevention, while others are geared towards modern and easy treatments for when things do go wrong. Improving Edmonton-based technology and innovation, and being eager to adopt the latest tech in health, will do wonders for keeping our city healthy and happy.