My favorite kind of health devices are not the kind you usually classify as such. A foam roller, maybe. A pencil, for example, picked up off the floor with your toes.
A year ago, I injured my foot badly enough that when it hadn’t healed eight months later, the chiropractor told me my arch had fallen as a side effect. I went home and stared at my traitorous foot wondering if I’d need surgery. On the other hand, I’m nothing if not prone to try to fix things myself. I got up and googled “how to fix a fallen arch” and started doing foot exercises until my foot muscles were sore. Picking up a pencil off the floor was one such exercise.
Over time, it actually worked. I fixed not only my foot injury, but my backaches from the poor posture I’d adopted to compensate for my foot. The pencil is mightier than the scalpel.
This is exactly the kind of health product that does not make money, of course, and thus does not sustain any kind of industry, let alone translation. And herein lies the rub: is there room in current medical practice for fixes like this, for at-home cures? Is there room in the translation industry, by extension, for anything such as mental health work, whether or not it brings in the big bucks as Luke Sewell points out in our focus?
As our health care costs continue to rise, these are questions that individuals will have to answer even if life sciences companies have yet to address them. We’ve never experienced such a proliferation of illness and poor health as in the current time, at least based on sheer volume. As we pull away from each other, dividing up nationalistically and behind the tiny prisons of our screens, we become sicker. We need each other in order to thrive.
We will need both, as it turns out: the ingenuity and hard science of Western medicine, promulgated globally by our own industry; and more holistic cures. Cures that take into account facts like sometimes, feet need exercise, not surgery.