Engineering solutions for an ageing population

New research has highlighted the fact that by 2050 there will be over 2 billion people in the world aged 60 years or over.

Of course, an ageing population will bring new health challenges with it. Because as we age, we lose bone and muscle mass and often develop diseases such as cancer.

But there are several engineering projects currently under development which aim to improve the lives of an ageing population – as well as make the situation more manageable for our healthcare system:

1) The 3D Body Scanner

The EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) has already provided £5.5 million in funding for the development of the world’s first 3D Body Scanner.

Currently being developed in the UK and designed to detect diseases like cancer, the so-called InLightenUs project’s current imaging technique can “see” 1mm beneath the skin. Lasers will be used to reach 5mm – the depth required to detect melanoma – and then to 10mm, allowing doctors to look at joints and bones.

The goal is to have patients simply walk through an archway or revolving door-type device with a doctor able to instantly see what might be ailing them by looking at a handheld tablet. The savings for the NHS by comparison to the expensive and potentially harmful current options like MRIs and x-rays would be huge.

The project has or will be undertaking research and engineering recruitment in the near future, bringing together teams from the Universities of Edinburgh, Nottingham and Southampton.

2) Artificial muscles

One of the challenges of getting older is battling reduced muscle function and bone density. The emPOWER project is hoping to change all that.

Instead of clunky exoskeletons and the limited powers of orthotics, emPOWER is designing artificial muscles which could be implanted within the body and restore natural function.

This revolutionary work could absolutely transform the everyday experience of the ageing process. The muscles currently under development are designed to be implanted and then powered from an energy source outside of the body. But who knows what the future will bring.

The emPOWER team is led by Professor Jonathon Rossiter of Bristol University in partnership with Imperial College, University College London and the NIHR Devices for Dignity MedTech Co-operative and hosted by the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust.

No doubt as the project continues, they will be looking to expand their already 30-strong team in the field of machinists, CAD and design engineer recruitment.

Find dream engineering jobs

For many qualified people looking for graduate and trainee engineer jobs, in particular, positions like those at the projects listed above would be a dream come true.

Do you have the engineering skills to be an asset to a project like this?

Let’s talk about it. Ernest Gordon routinely finds dream jobs for both newly qualified and highly experienced engineering recruitment candidates all over the UK.