As curiosity leads to discovery, innovation continues to grow and develop to serve its purpose. For centuries, humans find a way to make their lives easier and try to alleviate the problems presented to them. Along the way, humans were able to integrate engineering principles to the field of medicine and thus creating a new concept called Bioengineering. According to University of California Berkeley, the field of Bioengineering utilizes Engineering principles and analysis in application to the biological systems (What is Bioengineering, n.d.). Some common products developed the field in bioengineering includes prosthetics, pacemaker, hearing aid, wheelchair, eyeglasses and many more. In Bioengineering, there are different branches that cater to the problems of each area it focuses on. In this research, the researches will tackle the relation of Mechanical Engineering discipline and its components to the field of Bioengineering. According to Columbia University, Mechanical Engineering applies scientific concepts to objects and systems that move (What is Mechanical, n.d.). they play a major role in creating new products in the marketplace and that include systems of different machines varying from small to enormous machines being used today. Since Mechanical Engineering deals with systems in motion, it also includes the human body; in moving the body of a human, it includes the cooperation brain, muscles, joints, ligaments, nerves and many more anatomical concepts are studies to make it happen. With the application of Mechanical Engineering, mimicking and assisting human movements are now possible and it is widely available in the present market. In studying mechanical engineering, bioengineering can be a field of specialization; some subjects include biomechanics and cartilage-tissue engineering which focuses on the application of mechanical systems to the human body systems. Mechanical systems can also be integrated to assist and serve the needs of people and it can translate to the simplest product that can be seen in the market. A wheelchair and a crutch can be used to assist a person that is unable to walk; the upper body can be utilized to support the movement of the disabled person. A prosthetic can be used as a substitute to an amputated limb of a person. Integration of Mechanical Engineering to Bioengineering enables to alleviate problems in the biology of a human body such as movement and continues development of bioengineering lead to many more innovations that the humanity can utilize to make the world a better place for those who are in need.
The objectives of the research paper are the following:
- To determine how the discipline of mechanical engineering can relate to bioengineering,
- To determine how the mechanical systems developed by the field of mechanical engineering can help a biological system
- To determine how products of both mechanical engineering and bioengineering affects ethical principles of a human person
- To determine the future innovations of bioengineering integrating mechanical engineering concepts to biological systems
DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
Application of Bioengineering in Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical engineering is a field that deals with anything that is in motion, and that includes the human body. In order for them to understand the mechanical system of a body, they must first learn about its materials, control, instrumentation, and design. They then apply these to subjects or fields such as biomechanics, robotics, and bionics. These are examples of subjects or fields where bioengineering and mechanical engineering meet and apply the principles of one another.
Biomechanics is considered to be the science of the movement of a living body. It includes how muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments work together to create motion (Rogers, 2019). It is one of the rapidly growing areas of scientific exploration. It represents the connection between mechanics and biological group. It does not limit to the human body. It also encompasses animals, and even plants.
One of the applications of biomechanics is in sports. It is used to analyze the movements of individuals. The data gathered is then used by the coaches to further improve and develop their movement and use their capabilities to the maximum. It can also be used to design assistive materials such as sports equipment and clothing that will help the user efficiently maximize their movements. Aside from these, it can also be applied to studying the causes, treatment, and prevention of injuries caused by movement (Rogers, 2019).
Biomechanics applies mechanical principles to the human body in order to understand the mechanical influences on bone and joint health. Bones must be able hold up the forces loading the joints which are generated by muscles and transmitted by tendons. Developments in the field of biomechanics contributed to the development of medical diagnostic and treatment procedures. Its principles is used as the basis for of medical implants and orthotic devices and has enhanced physical therapy practices.
Bionics is the science of creating artificial systems that have some characteristics of living systems (Britanica, ND). It is the replication of biological systems by means of mechanical and electronic systems. It uses living models to in order to develop new ideas for useful and artificial machines. Bionics does not directly copy the details of how these organisms work, instead they understand the principles of why it works in nature that way. Some examples of bionics applications are prosthetics. Prosthetics are artificial parts of the body which imitates its function but does not replace it. They are just mere assistive products which aids the function of a specific part in a living body.
A study was recently conducted regarding bionic hands versus customized body-powered technology in a highly demanding work environment. A bionic hand is prosthetic which works by getting signals from a user’s muscles. The study’s results showed that the customized body-powered arm provides a more dependable, comfortable, efficient, powerful as well as delicate service with low maintenance as compared to the iLimb system that showed a number of relevant serious restriction (Schweitzer, 2018).
Robots are pieces of technology which can be programed to move, make noise, light up, and follow instructions as directed. With the help of having an understanding regarding biomechanics, engineers have already developed biologically inspired robots. These robots are more flexible and have greater mobility compared to that traditional once. These are made possible due to what we call bio-robotic technology. It often aims to provide assistance to accommodate a deficiency as highly advanced prosthetics (Credence Research, ND).
Aside from this, there is also a wide variety of robots being developed to be of help in the medical field. This includes surgical robots and rehabilitation robots. Through surgical robots, minimally-invasive procedures are being widespread across the globe. This means faster healing, and quicker recovery for the patients.
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One of its applications is the Robotic Orthotics. With the knowledge of how the joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the legs work during walking, they have created a wearable robotic exoskeleton which helps children with cerebral palsy to be able to walk by improving their gait or manner of walking. These are customized to fit the legs of the children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a disorder which often makes walking difficult for the patient because they lose muscle strength from the damage caused by their previous injuries. With the help Robotics Orthotics, their knees will be extended or stretched properly when walking. This also helps them to correct their crouching postures (Mika, 2017). This allows the children with cerebral palsy to be able to walk without further damaging their muscles and joints when walking.
Challenges in Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering
There are a lot of challenges in bioengineering with regard to the mechanical aspect. The lack of technological advancement in other countries, such as the Philippines, hinders local bioengineers from conducting an experiment that can help advance the biotechnological aspect of bioengineering. There is also the lack of people interested in bioengineering due to the small opportunities in a country. Poverty is a significant obstacle due to the absence of economic assistance for the research of both bioengineering and mechanical engineering, and many more.
Based on Colen, (2007) there are always legal and ethical constraints to bioengineering, especially in prostatic and robotics circumstances. There is always a line between treatment and enhancement. Another significant challenge for bioengineering is its own society, according to Udham (2018), that bioengineering, particularly biotechnology, is being treated unfairly by society due to one’s belief of what is right or wrong where all we need to do is accept it and give it an opportunity to improve our everyday life it’s more like Schrödinger’s cat, where we can’t learn the outcome whether bioengineering is good nor bad unless we open the box.
According to Kristine, one of the difficulties in bioengineering especially in a mechanical stand point is funding because of the need for fresh technologies to function or even to have good experimental information where it can cost a lot, particularly on a big scale basis. Also based on Jeong-Yeol and Mark, (2009) that one of the challenges is the standardized tools and unit of measurement that are needed of refinement where there are a lot of errors and malfunction due to the current technological tools that we used today.
Together, the two principles will provide improvement and development that would greatly help the future needs of the world, most especially in the medical field.
Most inventions or products developed with the principles of mechanical engineering and bioengineering are assistive. Not like in biomedical engineering where most are adaptive, but the purposes are still the same – to help or assist a specific situation.
The future of bioengineering with the principle of mechanical engineering is bright. Since mechanical engineering deals with the study of anything in motion, more assistive products can be developed to help those with problems in the way their body moves or functions.
Ethical Issues in Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering deals with machinery and engines that would help to operate a specific object. Also, the duty of this field is to maintain their developed product based on its mechanical system. When it comes to this field of engineering, there are a lot of relevant discoveries or inventions. One great example is the robotic specifically the bionic man. This discovery has been innovating throughout the years. It was shaped like a man-figure and programmed to its functions of man capabilities. According to the article of Jennings, the first bionic man created by Bertolt Meyer has been speaking and advocating to the world about motivating the people with disabilities, since bionic man was all about high-tech prosthetics that can replace the physical deficiency of a human body.
However, the world always sees an issue in every single thing. One of the most raised ethical issues when the bionic man was released is the empowerment of the technology. It still questions the overtaking of technology in knowledge and intelligence of the humans into the world; therefore there is still a hindrance on developing these kinds of technologies because of the agitation of the society. Another most raised ethical issue in the invention is that the dignity or the definition of the human being decreases when it replaces his body part as prosthetics, but according to Bertolt human beings does not define on how many prosthetics he replaced to his body; it still defines on how self-conscious he is to the world.
Since there are no laws violated when the bionic man was created, the researchers think that there is a need on improving these kinds of discoveries because in the near future, these innovations will greatly help not just with the people with disabilities but also the people who wants to change themselves. Additionally, if the people would consider the innovation, the country would have progress and development since the technology makes the country more productive and efficient. So in the researchers’ stand the ethical issues may not consider when it comes to the progression of the society and the country.
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