U.S. soldiers who return from Iraq missing a leg from the thigh down are getting back on their feet a lot faster these days, thanks to the Rheo Knee. The new prosthetic joint, developed in Iceland, is designed to learn the nuances of an individual's movements and adjust itself. An innovative control module--made up of sensors, a computer chip and software--reacts instantaneously to changes in the wearer's gait, so there's less strain on the hips and back.
INVENTORS Ossur, M.I.T.
AVAILABILITY Now, at select clinics
TO LEARN MORE ossur.com
THE LIGHT STUFF
Here's something nobody wants to think about: bathrooms are a great breeding ground for bacteria, and so are toothbrushes. No, rinsing them doesn't do much to help the situation. Enter the Violight toothbrush sanitizer, a high-tech toothbrush holder. Pop your toothbrush inside (it holds four), push a button, and the Violight bathes it with ultraviolet light, which eliminates 99.9% of germs and bacteria on the brush within 10 min.
AVAILABILITY Now, $49.95
TO LEARN MORE violight.com
TAKING THE BLINDERS OFF
You're sick of wearing glasses, but the LASIK people turned you down. Here's help: the new Verisyse corrective lens, which treats nearsightedness too severe for laser surgery to fix. The lens is implanted between the cornea and the iris through a 6-mm incision. If there are complications (infection, cataracts), it can be removed. A competing implantable lens, the Visian ICL, developed by Staar Surgical, still awaits FDA approval.
INVENTOR Jan Worst
AVAILABILITY Now, $3,000 to $4,000 an eye
TO LEARN MORE visioninfocus.com
Getting an HIV test has never been easier. With the new OraQuick Advance, a health professional simply swabs the inside of a person's mouth along the upper and lower gums and then inserts the stick into a vial of solution that tests for antibodies to the HIV-1 and HIV-2 virus strains. Within 20 minutes, the results appear on the stick. (Two reddish-purple lines indicate a positive result.) The OraQuick's accuracy rate: over 99%.
AVAILABILITY Now, price set by clinics
TO LEARN MORE orasure.com
Getting stuck with a needle is bad. Feeling like a pincushion while a medic looks for a vein is worse. Thanks to OnTarget, a so-called vein-contrast-enhancement device, doctors will soon be able to navigate your veins with a virtual map. Using a near-infrared camera, OnTarget takes a real-time video image of blood and projects it onto the skin--blood appears dark, and fat and tissue look light--highlighting placement of veins within 0.06 mm.
INVENTOR Conenhill Biomedics
AVAILABILITY 2005, price not set
TO LEARN MORE conenhill.com