System enables new uses, but critics say this flexibility comes with risks. Updated Dec. 2, 2013
Hundreds of thousands of Americans are receiving medical devices that were once considered nearly exclusive to the elderly. The shift is profoundly changing patient care and expanding the fortunes of the medical-technology industry while amplifying concerns over the safety and oversight of some products.
Matthew Taylor played video games in his room. Before a Medtronic pump was implanted to control his cerebral palsy, he couldn’t manipulate a joystick effectively.
The array of implantable devices is allowing more patients who suffer chronic pain and disability to enjoy active lifestyles that once seemed unimaginable.
Asher Thomas, 2, of Eden Prairie, with his mother, Robyn Thomas, has an adult pacemaker under the bulge in his abdomen.
Peter Quimby, with a left ventricular assist device and defibrillator, says he’s “the healthiest dying person you’ll ever know.”
Rapid growth of medical devices in middle-age patients renews lives, remakes industry and raises worries over long-term use.