In order to optimize treatment, it is necessary to closely monitor and manage the patient’s health status by means of ‘precision diagnostics and targeted therapy’. The specialisation combines the techniques and applications of these sensing (monitoring) and stimulation techniques. The field of sensing and stimulation is developing rapidly and ultimately will improve healthcare. The domain extends from biosensors to automated intensive care decision-support systems, and from advanced pacemakers to neurostimulation and rehabilitation robotics.
Sensing plays an important role in diagnosing, in making procedure decisions, in monitoring the effects of treatments and in determining the prognosis of every individual patient. Large technological advances has been made in the last decade regarding the ability to measure in detail, with the aid of (new) electrophysiological sensors modalities, like cardiovascular, respiratory, ambulatory activity monitoring, instrumented reflex readings, gait labs for 3D kinematics, and lab-on-a-chip sensing. Increasingly, these modalities are being combined. This is making it possible to make an earlier and more accurate diagnosis in the disease process, and also to monitor the patient in real-time during the recovery process. This is a tremendous opportunity to influence the recovery process in a more accurate and subtle way with the use of these sensing techniques.
Stimulation is the umbrella term for all devices and substances that are used when treating a patient in order to give the body a stimulus towards healing or to actively provide support to stabilise a disrupted biological control system. Examples include pacemakers, cochlear implants, virtual and e-health environments, advanced perfusion techniques, intensive care equipment, rehabilitation robotics and controlled drug release techniques. The clinical technician plays a crucial role in the application of these developments for individual patients by increasingly integrating more techniques and designing new combinations.