Technology brings doctors, engineers together

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS - Engineers and doctors in Central Illinois are working together to solve big medical issues. Each side specializes in something the other does not, so, by coming together, they're getting new ideas for keeping people safe and healthy.

This is the second year for the symposium. Organizers say the turnout almost doubled since last year. They had about 200 people Monday.

For the first part, doctors presented problems they've seen in the office and on the operating tables. Then engineers took the stage. They talked about technology they're developing which doctors may be able to use.

It includes tiny robotic arms which could be used during surgery and technology to help people in wheelchairs avoid getting hurt. People on each side say they know there are limitations to each field, but when they connect, they're able to find opportunities they might miss otherwise.

"It's not just the faculty members, not just the clinicians," said Thenkurussi Kesavadas, director of Health Care Engineering Systems Center at the University of Illinois. "We have people coming from industry, we have people coming from investment-type of people. We have students coming in."

"Having all the clinicians hear what the engineers are doing and having the engineers hearing those problems, it's like a big combined brainstorming session where you can say, 'I just need to talk to this guy because I know the perfect clinical use for that widget he's creating,'" said Matthew Bramlet, M.D., Congenital Cardiac MRI Director at the Children's Hospital of Illinois.

After the presentations, doctors and engineers get to meet up and see how they can help each other. It's all part of a partnership between the University of Illinois and Peoria's Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center. It started with a $50 million push. That money is still helping fund these projects.

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