Digital Twins Providing Personalised Medicine

By Ben Watts

Tue, 16 Oct 2018

There are major on-going initiatives enabling digital medical twins to be a key innovator in the future. A medical twin will advise us on the risks we experience as a result of our diet, physical activities and living conditions. Developments made by simulating the human body can lead to enhanced medical treatments, which are more adapted to an individual’s needs.

As a result of the personalization of medicine, people will be under what is essentially intensive care. All of the body’s functions will be monitored with warnings being triggered if a limitation drifts too far from its healthy standard. It could be slightly overwhelming having bodily functions such as body temperature, breathing rate, stress level, blood pressure and cardiac rhythm all constantly monitored. Receiving daily recommendations and reassurances through a synthesis control panel however will become welcoming, as collected data enables people to see the positive effects on their health. Personal data such as weight, health, activity tracking, and medical treatment, will help guide people to healthier lifestyles.

Digital Twin methodologies for personalized medicine will describe and monitor the state of the individual, not just their medical history. The average state of an individual will include comparisons of their current genomic, physical and mental state with those of a segment of the population. The real motive will be to devise models at an advanced enough resolution to surpass the practitioner’s knowledge and insight. This is vital given the critical and sensitive nature of the human body. With better insights into an individual’s health doctors will be better prepared to implement preventive strategies, recovery plans, and improve health care costs.

This can be highly beneficial for athletes as digital twins will enable them to implement designed training programs based on their physical fitness needs or injuries. Biomechanical engineers from the ‘National Institute of Health’ are working to develop a digital twin to assist them in accurately predicting where brain damage from concussion injuries are likely to strike in athletes. It will allow them to have a better diagnosis of concussion-related trauma and be able to calculate brain injuries throughout an athlete’s career. Head trauma is evaluated by creating a digital model by use of MRI technology. To predict trauma this method uses axonal damage, which is one of the most common and vital features associated with brain trauma injuries. Having scans depicting an athlete’s past of head injuries, providing who they are and what accident occurred, can be vital in accelerating diagnostic procedures and preparation for surgery.

As digital twins offer so many advantages for keeping physical systems and devices healthy, applying the same method to the human body could provide a realistic medical innovation. Your own digital twin could provide healthcare practitioners with both diagnosis and treatment, while also assisting you in managing your own health. It may be a futuristic dream similar to a science fiction movie, but virtual medical twins are already being practiced and steadily materializing their way on a larger scale.

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Ben Watts

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