The objects are spectacular, the presentation unique: The special exhibition Computer.Medicine in Paderborn’s Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum is demonstrating the use of state-of-the-art computer technology in medical science between 25th October and 1st May. Over 100 exhibits, 35 of them interactive, are on show in an area covering 1,000 square metres of floorspace.
Visitors can experience the advances made in healthy living and lifestyle at first hand. They can compete against the marathon world record holder on a treadmill, gain fascinating insights into the workings of the body, test their eyesight and hearing, perform a (virtual) appendectomy or play an active part in a head operation. They will learn how the brain can control a computer and discover the benefits of computer-controlled prostheses.
“Rather than focussing on a specific topic, the HNF’s Computer.Medicine exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of medicine and healthcare, an area which is no longer conceivable without computer support,” says HNF managing director Dr. Kurt Beiersdörfer, stressing the importance of the exhibition. “The great degree of interactivity ensures that the contents of the exhibition are very exciting for the visitor to discover: high-tech developments are presented with high-tech support. We thus hope to appeal to laymen as well as to those in the healthcare sector,” adds Beiersdörfer.
“Computer.Medicine presents knowledge that assists and supports humankind and ensures its well-being. It is a highly topical area, offering a wide range of future prospects for employees and companies alike. The healthcare sector already provides more jobs than any other in North Rhine Westphalia,” says Beiersdörfer, putting the exhibition into a topical context.
Computer.Medicine is based on items loaned from Germany and abroad. These represent the current state of the art and are currently finding their way into leading hospitals. A tour of the exhibition allows visitors to explore the use of computers in the fields of prevention, diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation. References to their everyday lives and information for their daily well-being are provided at every turn, including tips on healthy eating and future-oriented fitness devices, plus numerous chances to test how their bodies function.
Many requests to loan out Computer.Medicine have already been received from institutions abroad. The exhibition is thus expected to tour the world for several years. Beiersdörfer is anticipating 100,000 visitors in Paderborn alone.
The exhibition marks the ten-year anniversary of the HNF, which was opened by the then Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl on 24th October 1996. Since then, well over a million people have visited what is recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s biggest computer museum, in which more than 800 events are held every year.
An extensively illustrated German/English catalogue on Computer.Medicine has been published by Schöningh-Verlag, providing an introduction to the exhibition topics and presenting the exhibits themselves on 360 pages.
More detailed information is available on our homepage www.computer-medizin.de
Highlights of the exhibition
An Anatomy Theatre awaits visitors at the start of their tour. Just as the human anatomy was first explained to the general public during the Renaissance period, state-of-the-art processes are used here to make the human body transparent to all. Impressive worlds of images give visitors fascinating insights into the internal workings of the body. They can create section images of the human body or penetrate a person’s skin by virtual means in order to explore the skeletal, circulatory and nervous systems underneath. MRT images of a beating heart can be viewed on a monitor and virtual sections made through the heart.
In the Physical Wellness section, visitors can find out how important preventive check-ups are in ensuring good health, and how useful computer-aided devices can be in this field. They can test a treadmill and compare their speed with that of the marathon world record holder or celebrities such as Joschka Fischer. A range of virtual tours can be completed on a bicycle ergometer. Various predetermined kinetic patterns can be reproduced at the T-Wall. One of the few exhibits that cannot be fully tested is the “intelligent toilet”, which measures weight, body fat and blood pressure and analyses urine during use. A wide range of sports paraphernalia provides an insight into today’s computer-supported training methods. Internet terminals are also available with information on general health topics, nutrition, widespread present-day diseases and various health check-ups. This puts the spotlight on the doctor-patient relationship, which has undergone significant change with the advent of the internet in particular.
A special section focuses on the Electronic Health Card. This card has been undergoing testing in eight pilot regions since the start of 2006 and will have a permanent place in every patient’s wallet in the future. Germany’s only functioning presentation of the Health Card application is on show at the HNF.
The section Images of the Body concentrates on imaging processes. A generous amount of floorspace is devoted to a design study of a computer tomograph of the future. The particular features of CT, ultrasound, MRT, PET and X-ray are explained and can be tried out by means of simulations. Among the exhibits is an ultrasound simulator which visitors can use to examine the torso of a pregnant woman. The use of endoscopes inside the body can be followed by means of video footage, while eyesight and hearing tests are on offer to the public at various points. More specifically, the Heidelberg Retina Tomograph allows visitors to measure their optic nerve head for the early detection of glaucoma and related diseases.
The central exhibit in the section Operations on the Body is an operating theatre of the future, in which a neurosurgical navigation system is displayed. State-of-the-art anaesthetic breathing equipment, a heart-lung machine and a telemanipulator can also be viewed. Visitors can test their skills on a training device used to practise appendectomies. The new heavy ion therapy which enables radiotherapy to be performed on selected cancer cells is demonstrated in a multimedia presentation, while the latest generation of artificial hearts and cardiac support systems is also on show.
Implants, artificial limbs and computer-supported processes are featured in the section entitled Aids for the Body. The world’s leading prostheses are on show. In prosthetic upper arms and forearms, the grasping impulse is relayed to the prosthesis via electrodes. A microprocessor-controlled above-knee prosthesis enables patients to walk and run in completely natural fashion. Another particularly impressive exhibit is the robotic treadmill: People with spinal cord injuries can practise walking with the aid of this robot-assisted treadmill, which helps redevelop the damaged nerve tract. There is also a Japanese whole-body robot, an exo-skeleton which is used to help paralysed patients to walk again. A wheelchair designed especially for epileptics and those who suffer from similar conditions detects obstacles in its path and stops automatically before a collision can occur. Another spectacular exhibit is the retina implant which in future will restore the gift of sight to the nearly blind. Medicine pumps and electrostimulators will also be able to combat chronic pain in specific areas of the brain and spinal cord.
One technology of the future focussed on here is telemonitoring. Computer.Medicine is exhibiting a mobile phone and cardiac pacemaker for those with heart problems, capable of automatically creating an ECG and forwarding it to a medical centre via radio. A “LifeShirt” which can measure a range of vital parameters, from pulse rate to body temperature, is also on show. This section ends with a presentation from the University of Washington on how to combat phobias. People who are scared of spiders are confronted with one of these creatures by virtual means, thus learning how to deal with their fears.