5 Ways Medical Motors Are Improving Our Lives

By Allied Motion | Jul 15, 2016

Surgical robots, powered prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons, handheld precision surgical handpieces and even consumer CPAP machines are some of the modern medical marvels that are helping an increasing number of people achieve mobility, function and better health.

These technologically advanced medical products have become a reality in part thanks to advances in the medical motors and electronic drives used to power them.

Here are five important ways medical motors and drives used in these advancements are improving the lives and health of all of us.

1. Mobility.

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Gearmotors help enable wheelchair-bound people to enjoy their freedom and get off the normal path. The Action Trackchair, for example, a unique, all-terrain wheelchair, isn’t your ordinary wheelchair. It uses treads instead of wheels, which opens up an array of off-roading mobility solutions through fields, forests and even small streams -- all powered by a gearmotor.

Our RAD36 right-angle gearmotor powers the Trackchair. It enables the Trackchair to safely carry up to a 350-lb. person at speeds up to 5 mph -- while allowing movement through inclines, depressions, debris and other obstacles.

2. Medical pumping.

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Medical motors are essential to power the pumps used in many modern medical devices to provide cooling and accurately meter fluids, gases and medications.

CT scanners. Computed Tomography scanners enable fast, high-resolution scanning and 3D imaging of the inside of the human body. Many CT scanners require a centrifugal pump to circulate coolant to maintain the temperature of the scanner’s x-ray system. Typically, a brushless DC motor with integrated drive, like Allied Motion’s EnduraMax, reliably powers the pump.

Dialysis: Hemodialysis systems require reliable peristaltic pumps to accurately pass the patient’s blood and the dialysis solution through the machine’s dialyzer. Our KinetiMax™ precision brushless motors provide reliable, quiet operation for these life-giving machines.

CPAP: CPCP machines have solved sleep apnea issues for millions of people who suffer from this debilitating condition. Modern CPAPs are very compact, very quiet and some are even battery powered. The heart of the CPAP is a highly dynamic blower normally powered by a brushless DC motor.

Allied Motion engineers developed a special brushless motor, called the ResMax™, with high dynamic performance capability and a high top speed of 90,000 RPM for a supplier of blower assemblies used in CPAP machines. The ResMax runs quietly at high speed, has a very low inertia rotor for high dynamic performance and has an extended bearing life of over 30,000 hours.

3. Robotic surgery.

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What is commonly called robotic surgery should actually be called robot-assisted surgery, as a surgeon remotely guides the robot to do the surgery. This allows for less invasive, more comfortable patient experiences.

The rate of robotic surgeries is increasing by 25 percent annually. Robotic surgery has proven benefits in reducing the risk and complications associated with open surgical procedures, extending the benefits of minimally invasive surgery to more patients. The surgical robot is able to make much smaller incisions and use smaller surgical instruments than the surgeon can use.

“These precise surgical systems advanced frameless torque motors of various diameters to power them,” Phillip Lucia, business development manager for Allied Motion in Tulsa, remarks. “We’ve been helping our customers for over a decade to develop custom motion solutions for surgical robotics, resulting in more power delivered where it is needed most, more efficiency to enable longer-lasting procedures and cooler devices, and enabling innovative mechanical design with our flexible and customizable packaging to free surgical robotics engineers to dream big and change the way surgeries are done, all with the end goal of improving patient outcomes.”

4. Advanced powered prosthetics.

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Artificial limbs are applied in a variety of cases: accidents, disease, congenital defects, combat injuries and more. Today, powered bionic limbs have been developed that can interact with human muscle, skeleton and nervous systems to assist human motor control in ways that are becoming increasingly natural.

Our engineers have worked with the developers of these amazing prosthetics—like the Power Knee™ and fully functional prosthetic arms for amputees—to apply our motors.

5. Compact, high-powered surgical handpieces.

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Surgical handpiece motors are high-powered devices, but also must be small, light and efficient – which is difficult to achieve in most motor designs.

Allied Motion has developed miniature slotless and slotted brushless motors to power these handpieces. These motors meet and often exceed surgical industry requirements, delivering precision and efficiency at high speeds to 100,000 RPM and above.

An example is Allied Motion’s slotless PerformeX series that delivers twice the power of same-size competitive units. The patented PerformeX slotless motors incorporate special winding configurations, lamination materials and proprietary construction techniques to achieve two to three times the torque at speed compared to a slotted type motor of similar construction. These units can be provided with special sealing features that enable up to 1000 autoclave sterilization cycles, leading to more cost-effective reusable handpieces.

More on our Medical Motors

Allied Motion’s medical motors are designed to meet the exact requirements of medical applications. If you have an application that needs one or more medical motors, we’d be pleased to work with you to help select one of our standard designs or to develop a custom motor that matches your unique requirements.

Contact our engineers today to discuss your medical motor application. Want to stay up to date with our content? Follow us on Twitter @AlliedMotion1.

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