The Virtual Soldier

 

In this digital day and age, records are kept of everything. Shelves and shelves of pictures may be consolidated into a tiny  thumb drive. There are so many things that can be saved in an intangible form to be accessed at convenience. Now, experts at the University of Nevada are looking into taking this to a whole other level. They are in discussion with the US military and working on making “virtual soldiers.”

Many things happen when people are sent off to a war. Some of these things change them in ways that cannot be repaired. With the help of new technology, doctors and scientists might now have the means to better repair what has been altered.

knee

3D image from MRI scan: http://www.ablesw.com/3d-doctor/images.html

Some of this proposed technology is already being  used in “3D dissection tables.” X-rays, ultrasounds and MRI’s are used to scan a body and the resulting scan may be used and interacted with on these tables. Experts are suggesting that this technology can be used to create personal replicas for the purpose of documentation. If the scanned human is injured the documentation provides a “saved point” to compare with the now-damaged individual.

These 3D virtual copies might be especially useful to people sent into dangerous areas where they face a risk of mutilation and severe bodily harm. Virtual copies could be made of soldiers before they are sent into the battlefield. The virtual copies of soldiers could serve as useful templates for surgeons. If a bone were broken, the 3D copy could serve as a consulting tool in the repair.

Thanks to new innovations in 3D printable materials, the scans could provide an even more direct solution. Porous titanium prints of bones can be inserted into a body and new bone grows to fill the gaps. This technology could create very precise versions that provide the best possible restoration of the original form.

Presumably, this technology could also apply in the making of prosthetic limbs. No more approximate guesses, these scans could provide data that would allow for an exact replica of the damaged form. 3D printing could make the 3D image into a custom prosthesis made to order for the individual.

Overall, these virtual scans of soldiers would be an innovative way to take advantage of data storage and scanning technology. When all the king’s horses and men aren’t enough, they can round up the x-rays, ultrasounds, MRI’s and 3D printers. Combined with scanned data, 3D printing technology could create life altering solutions to medical problems.

 

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