Soldiers could soon have a ‘virtual twin’ in a database ready for emergency medical procedures. Experts are looking at 3D scanning technologies to get a complete image of individual soldiers to 3D print their bones.
Experts at the University of Nevada are in discussion with the U.S. military to create digital records of soldiers which could be referred to by army surgeons. Soldiers could be scanned from head to toe before they ever set foot on the battlefield. A virtual twin would thus be kept ready online so that bones could be 3D printed in the event of injury sustained during battle.
Interestingly, such a technology already exists today, but was being used for a completely different purpose. The team at the University and medical training facilities elsewhere have been using virtual operating tables to practice dissection and help medical students learn the anatomy of the human body.
Using a combination of high density X-rays, Ultrasounds and MRI, the tables create a perfect replica of any human body placed on it. Thereafter, the computer inside collates all the information in full color and screens relay the ‘virtual body’ on the futuristic operating table.
Currently, trainee doctors are using the technology to peer inside the human body in great detail. The virtual autopsy table, designed by US firm Anatomage, is approximately the size of a regular front door with a large screen which shows a life-size body which can be manipulated in three dimensions. The table allows future doctors and surgeons to operate on the virtual body and perform all sorts of procedures, without ever risking another human’s life for the sake of science and learning.
Now the experts are in talks with the defense sector to place its soldiers, one-by-one, on the table and have each of them digitally scanned. These scans would be filed on servers to which on-field emergency medical personnel will have access. Using these scans, perfect customized bones could be manufactured instantly using commercial grade 3D printers.
Having a scan of the bones could prove immensely helpful and would take the guess-work out of trying to mend the damaged limb and greatly reduce surgery and recovery time. Doctors hope that these 3D scans and bones would help soldiers regain mobility and function a lot sooner than present-day techniques.
3D scans could also help those administering physiotherapy to check healing and ensure the soldier’s limb restores to near-original state. Given the fact that these scanning machines exists today, 3D scans of soldiers could take just a few months to be created and stored for future use, state the experts.
[Image Credit | Anatomage, National Technological University of Singapore]