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The Uses of Polymers in Medicine

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The Uses of Polymers in Medicine
Institutional Affiliation:

The Uses of Polymers in Medicine
Research Question:
What are the uses of polymers in medicine?
Review of Literature
Biomaterials are materials other than drugs or food that are contained in diagnostic systems. They are usually placed together biological fluids or tissues and can be used in the medical sector as coatings in drugs or patches of trasdermal. They play a vital role in corporeal materials like contact lenses to dialyses and implant devices. Practitioners in the medical field have been known to cure ailments or replace defective body parts with different substances. This has made the use of polymers common in the medical field due to the recent developments in science.
Hoffman (2013) confirms that until recently, most medical practitioners were known to use off the shelf products that were found to be ineffective and weak. This led to the ongoing research in the medical field and overall designing of biomaterials like polymers. Their use has become common and wide around the globe due to their resistance nature and durability. The need for products that can be used in the short run, for example in putting the bone in place as the body heals has become desirable. Such methods have been seen when dealing with tissue engineering and orthopedics.
According to Joralemon (2010) the use of polymers in medicine is specialized area which has various requirements and applications. However, the volume of polymers used in this field is small when compared to the yearly production of polyethylene materials.

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In the US, the total amount of money spent on biomedical and prosthetic devices is more than $16 billion. The applications include 6 million contact lenses, one million joint replacements, and over one million dentures. In addition, there are more than 50,000 patients who are on artificial kidneys and more than 90,000 make use of coronary bypass operations.
The healthcare sector cannot operate to the maximum without making use of plastics. They have been found to be durable and strong with the capacity to endure sterilization and high temperatures. Currently there are various developments that are geared towards making polymers that can be used in different applications that range from drug-delivery systems to pharmaceutical preparations. Sample use of polymers in the medical field is shown below.

Due to the aging population in the world, there is an increased need for care, and this has posed a great challenge to the health industry. Such a factor together with the active improvements in the health industry will lead to increased desire for medical practitioners to develop more research on medical plastics.
The various factors that will lead to the increased use and need of polymers in the medical field will include the aging population, the need for sophisticated materials and the need to make devices that are impact-resistant for homecare use.
Due to the high competition, those in the market need to make diversifications in their products to ensure increased participation and use of polymers. Those in the manufacturing sector also need to ensure that the polymers produced are of high quality and able to handle the intense pressure from users. The products will also need to meet all the requirements of the users while considering the various applications of the devices.
Polymers that are mostly used in the medical field are those that have high thermal properties with high resistance capabilities (Shastri, 2003). Such properties will enable successful applications in the medical field like caring for wounds, lubrications and medical tubing. Homecare products are supposed to be functional and small for purposes of better functionality. Polymers are superior products which are able to meet such qualities without problems. This is because they are flexible, strong and durable. They can also be colored with the capacity to permit lightweight. The use of polymers in the healthcare sector is relatively low compared to the construction and automotive industries. However, they are able to provide higher margins for their different functions. The use of PVC in the medical fraternity is indicated below.

To ascertain the durability and strength of polymers, students were asked to investigate the diffusion of liquids through a polymer membrane. They then make considerations of different membranes to understand how the human kidney operates. The main desire is to find why some molecules are not left in the body during dialysis and the consideration of water as a fluid to be used leading to the overall understanding of osmosis. Lastly, they create different PVC membranes and investigate their chemical behavior and physical structure. The materials used include iodine solution, starch solution and a selection of different plastic films. The procedure involves putting the solutions into the bags at different intervals. The tubes are numbered 1-4.

The students discover that all the membranes from 1-4 are strong enough and do not allow any penetration of those liquids when poured into the tubes. The use of water is also observed, and the students record zero penetration of water through the tubes except that there is a little amount of water that is lost from the tubes due to osmosis. In overall the students learn that the membranes are able to release some toxics from the tubes when water is added.
Biomaterials like polymers have made a great impact in the medical field hence the need for their use and development. Over the next few years the use of metals and glass will decline and pave way for polymers in the health industry. This will be possible despite the increasing prices of the latter. The versatility of polymers will be key to such a phenomenon. Scientists will need to design and develop polymers in accordance to the applications required. The increased need will be necessitated by the replacements that are currently being made on standard materials that are used in the medical field. The replaced materials include silicone, PVC, thermoplastic and other polymers that are known to be high performing.

Hoffman, A. S. (2013). Stimuli-responsive polymers: Biomedical applications and challenges for clinical translation. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews.
Joralemon, M. J., McRae, S., & Emrick, T. (2010). PEGylated polymers for medicine: from conjugation to self-assembled systems. Chemical communications (Cambridge, England), 46(9), 1377-1393.
Shastri, V. P. (2003). Non-degradable biocompatible polymers in medicine: past, present and future. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology, 4(5), 331-337.

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