With every new year comes a plethora of scientific, medical and health advancements - and we've worked to make a list of 12 that have the potential to change most of our lives for the better by either saving lives, answering a question that has troubled us for centuries or creating an unforgettable impact through its existence. Here's a look at the advancements we made this year.

Augmented reality and it's widespread use

There might come a time when AR is used every day by everyone. (Shutterstock)

With the urgent demand and need for a revolution in healthcare education came the requirement of adding the teaching of augmented reality in syllabuses of children all around the world. Since a low supply of AR experts have led to doctors undergoing years of hard work before they get paid an amount deserving of their time investment - the healthcare departments have realized that we need a drastic increase in supply to meet the needs. They have calculated that they require 96,000 more doctors to balance the demand of AR-related treatments. 

Schools and University worldwide now offer robust 3D training tools by companies like 3D4Medical that train those interested in how to carry forth complex surgical procedures without cutting open a cadaver. Next time you come across someone who is looking to enroll into school or university with a choice - make sure they have AR classes included in their curriculum - for all you know it might become as basic as the ABC of 2020s.

The great American eclipse

A man uses viewers with magnification to track the progress of the Great American Eclipse overhead in Saluki Stadium at Southern Illinois University. (Shutterstock)

Who knew that an eclipse would bring together more people than any other event would - not even the 4th of July. The hiding of the sun behind the moon on August 21st, brought together millions of Americans including the president - as they all took refuge behind eclipse glasses and stared into the sky. 

Since this was the first eclipse to cross the United States since 1918 - it was reason enough to send everyone into a frenzy including professional astronomers. Astrophysicists who had access to advanced equipment - were delighted to discover several new figures and facts about our solar system. We wait for 2024 for the next solar eclipse eagerly - because we won't be surprised if people from different nationalities fly down to witness it - it's never too early to start preparing. 

Access to solutions for patients

infusion pump is a vascular access control device which can be accessed from a patient's room itself  (Shutterstock).

Up until this year - nothing was certain but death and faxed facts - when it came to long-term statistics of patients in the healthcare department. This is because the healthcare facilities still communicate with paper - and only less than 10 percent of hospitals say that they trade their records entirely through digital systems. Furthermore, only 54% of all faxed patient referrals result in scheduled appointments - all due to the complicated network of communication between health systems.

This year has promised to a change in this area - and is promising better patient access to the country. Don't be surprised if you don't have to carry all your records of your past health assessments with you and if your doctor is able to pull all of it up on his desktop with a click of his mouse.

Human head transplants

Head of human anatomy model showing how complex it can get. (Shutterstock)

 Kudos to Sergio Canavero - an Italian neurosurgeon - who is now allegedly the first person to attempt a human head transplant by the end of this year. He is not deterred by the fact that no successful animal head transplant has happened in the past where the patient has survived for a long-term after - and this due to the difficulty of connecting the spinal cord successfully. However, Canavero has made drastic improvements in this process with the use of a special blade and polyethylene glycol - a polymer that is widely used in everything from medicine to skin cream. 

Earlier in November, Canavero said, the world's first human head transplant has been carried out on a corpse in China. The professor said: "The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done. "A full head swap between brain-dead organ donors is the next stage and that is the final step for the formal head transplant for a medical condition which is imminent."

Valery Spiridonov (Pinterest)

Valery Spiridonov, is the brave one who had volunteered to be the first person to undergo a head transplant. The 30- year -old Russian has a degenerative muscle condition known as Wedding - Hoffman - and is hopeful about being the first human to successfully undergo a human head transplant this year. This development makes all those suffering from neurological problems - hopeful for a fresh start in the future. 

Treating defects in a baby before its birth 

It starts with a doctor puncturing the abdominal wall of a pregnant woman to withdraw the fluid. After this, the amniotic fluid is extracted analyzed for various chromosomal abnormalities. (shutterstock).

 Scientists believe that fetal surgery will decrease the death rates of infants drastically. 

Denise Grady, a Times reporter was allowed to observe an experimental technique to treat severe spina bifida in a 24 - week - old fetus. Doctors are hopeful for successful outcomes for children who are born with the disorder since their first 28 surgeries have seen good results so far.  

 3D Printed Drugs

It prints out the powdered drug layer by layer to make it dissolve faster than average pills. (Twitter)

3D printing has been increasing in popularity and now is being used to save lives, time and money. The manufacturing business has seen revolutionary outcomes with the invention of a 3d printer - especially in the health department. Stereolithography - printing which can create almost any object by fusing different materials with layers to form a 3D product is being used to mass produce drugs - lowering their costs drastically. 

 BioElectronics

Female trainer connecting cables of electrostimulation suit (Shutterstock)

GSK’s Bioelectronics R&D unit is working towards pursuing a new class of medicines that would be different from pills and injections in a way that will take you by surprise. They are inventing implantable devices in miniature forms - that are programmed to read and correct electrical signals that pass along the nerves of the body and alter irregular impulses that cause discomfort and diseases. They hope to be able to treat diseases like inflammatory bowel diseases,  arthritis, asthma, hypertension and diabetes without being concerned with the side effects that are usually caused by pills and injections. Companies like Google are sponsoring similar research to make this a reality and have seen big improvements in their mission this year. 

Don't be too distressed if you are diagnosed with a chronic issue that seems to have a neverending list of drugs needed to fix it - health technicians are on their way to your rescue.

Evolution and beauty.

Monkeys are popularly seen beautifying themselves. (Shutterstock) 

 Who knew animals also make choices based on aesthetic appearance? Could it be a human influence on them?

To answer the staggering question - why does beauty exist - Richard O. Prum - an ornithologist - worked towards reviving the idea of Charles Darwin that "the attractiveness of an animal to another of its species isn’t only tied to fitness and good genes."

This year is marked by when Dr. Prum realized that "animals — especially birds — are making subjective decisions."Prum is a world authority on manakins, a group of sparrow-sized birds whose dazzling males perform mate-attracting movements on trees in Central and South American forests. Years of watching the males carry on until they nearly collapsed convinced him that much of the selection is linked to nothing except a female love of beauty itself, that the only force pushing things forward is female appreciation. This, he says, has nothing to do with functionality: it is purely aesthetic evolution, with “the potential to evolve arbitrary and useless beauty”. 

Discovery of seven worlds orbiting a star close to our planet

Solar systems similar to ours have been discovered in our Milky way (Shutterstock)

 After years of research, we are so much closer to knowing that there indeed could be more solar systems with life-bearing planets like ours. 

A new Earth-sized planet was seen orbiting a dwarf star named Trappist-1 about 40 light years from Earth. After this discovery - they found similar such celestial bodies even with water on their surface."The cool red dwarf star, Trappist-1, is 40 light years from Earth and of its seven planets, three could be at the right distance to contain oceans of water and may have the right conditions for life" as declared by authors of the research.

With the end of this year -we should have our bags packed in case of emergency earth evacuation. 

The secret hiding place of trafficked wildlife goods was finally discovered

A closer look at trafficked Southern White Rhinoceros horns.


A tiger's head and a stuffed macaque monkey was found leading to the discovery of where trafficked wildlife goods actually go. Surprise, surprise they make their way to the National Wildlife Property Repository near Denver. Tristan Spinski from inside the facility took pictures of - shoes made of leopard skin, a lamp made with zebra hooves, a sea turtle’s skull, an elephant foot stool — which in return “testify to the human appetite for other species,” Rachel Nuwer wrote for The Times in July.

Do be wary of what you are buying the next time you decide to invest in a seemingly furry doormat. 

Syphilis might have returned - and for the worse

Secondary Syphilis, palms involvement. (Shutterstock)

 While this might not be the best news this year - however, health scientists are hoping that the realization of the return of Syphilis might help spread awareness and catch it in its early years so that we can help prevent it from becoming an epidemic.

The old S.T.D. broke loose in Oklahoma City as confirmed by public health data that showed a sudden increase in syphilis in the United States due to excessive heroin and methamphetamine epidemics. Companies like Facebook are helping to spread awareness and detect infected people to urge them to get treated. 

Do give this disease a due consideration the next time you go for your monthly/annual checkup. 

The discovery and availability of bioabsorbable stents

Illustration of the working of a stent. (shutterstock)

With every year, there are 600,000 people who require metal coronary stents to be put into their chests to treat coronary artery blockage. However, up until now, that stent stays in there forever, long after its purpose is achieved causing the inhibition of natural blood flow while causing other complications, like blood clots.

Hurray! Hurray - genius scientists have finally found bioabsorbable stents that disappear in our bodies after their object is achieved. While one version of an absorbable stent has already been FDA approved - more such are on their way to success in the next few years. 

While the magic of vanishing stents is yet to witnessed wholly, 2017 is unarguably the year the technology becomes a game changer.

 

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