Robotic Surgery Medical Breakthrough

Amazing Breakthroughs in Medical Treatments From the 2000s

The pivotal decade from 2000 to 2009 witnessed several transformative medical breakthroughs, from revolutionary treatments to innovative technologies. Groundbreaking advancements in medicine during the aughts have had a powerful impact on health care and people with disabilities. Understanding these developments underscores the importance of leveraging such progress in disability claims. As you start applying for Social Security disability, the skilled insight of a Massachusetts disability lawyer is invaluable. 

1. Robot-Assisted Surgery With the Da Vinci System

Electronic instruments have been a part of surgical procedures for years. A surgical robot was among the key medical breakthroughs from the 1980s. Robotic surgery can help doctors improve both accuracy and precision, especially in cancer cases. Surgeons can magnify images and fine-tune their movements. 

The evolution of robot-assisted surgery took a major leap forward when the FDA approved the da Vinci Surgical System by Intuitive Surgical in 2000. The surgeon controls the patient-side cart from a console in the same room. The cart consists of robotic arms with tools like scalpels and graspers, plus 3D cameras. Surgeons have successfully used the da Vinci system for cardiac valve repair and prostatectomies, among other procedures. Subsequent versions added more arms and advanced functionality. 

2. Genome Sequencing With the Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project (HGP) provided crucial insights into genetics and presented some of its final findings during the aughts. Scientists from the project released a rough draft of the human genome to the public in 2000, following up with a final draft in 2003. More updates arrived in 2007. The international scientific research project started in 1990. It sought to map the physical genes that make up the human body. 

By mapping the entire human genome, the Human Genome Project has paved the way for more advanced personalized medicine. New treatments have been developed to cater to individuals with particular genes. They can be more effective and less toxic. One example is a medication called Iressa. Used to treat lung cancer, it is given only to people with certain mutations. 

3. Cancer Therapy Advancements With Gleevec

Cancer is second only to heart disease as a leading cause of death in the United States. It affects thousands of Americans every year. Even when it isn’t fatal, it can be incredibly debilitating. 

In 2001, the FDA approved a cancer pill called Imatinib. Sold under the brand names Gleevec and Glivec by Novartis, the therapy is used primarily to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). This is one of the cancer types that qualify for the Compassionate Allowance Program from the Social Security Administration. 

The oral therapy specifically targets the BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase protein in patients. In doing so, it can help to prevent cancer cells from growing and multiplying. In addition to CML, Gleevec is also used to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). Biochemist Nicholas Lyndon and oncologist Brian Druker worked intimately on Gleevec’s development. 

4. Introduction of the HPV Vaccine

Vaccines can be highly effective in preventing avoidable diseases. While there are never any guarantees, getting your annual flu shot can significantly reduce the chances of getting the flu each year. Even if you do get sick, symptoms tend to be milder and don’t last as long. That’s just with the common flu. Vaccines for more serious diseases are even more important.

The introduction of the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) in 2006 marked a significant step in preventing cervical cancer and related diseases. The HPV vaccine has been highly effective, preventing more than 90 percent of HPV-attributable cancers. 

The CDC reports that HPV infections have dropped significantly since the vaccine was first recommended in 2006. Infections that cause HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped over 80 percent among teen girls and young women. It has also reduced cases of precancers of the cervix. 

5. Expansion of Telehealth and Telemedicine Platforms

Well before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, telehealth platforms had already begun making major advancements for years. NASA scientists used telemedicine to monitor the health of astronauts in flight as early as 1960. As information and communications technology (ICT) progressed, it empowered health care providers to adapt to new methods for treating patients.

This was especially pronounced during the early years of the 21st century. Alongside the advancement of consumer smartphones and high-speed internet, telemedicine platforms allowed remote consultations and diagnostics. The development was especially significant for individuals with disabilities in remote or underserved areas, granting them far easier access to health care. Seeking treatment can help your SSDI claim. It shows you are doing everything you can to mitigate the debilitating symptoms of a medical condition. 

In 2005, former NASA surgeon and engineer G. Byron Brooks launched Teladoc, the first national telehealth provider in the United States. The Ryan Haight Act of 2008 allows medical practitioners to prescribe medicine with only a valid telemedicine consultation. This bypassed the traditional requirement of a face-to-face appointment. 

Other Notable Medical Developments From the Aughts

The period from 2000 to 2009 saw many more advancements in medical science. Some other highlights from the aughts include the following.

Stem Cell Research

An area of scientific inquiry that was and continues to be rife with controversy is stem cell research. Advancements in this field are not just theoretical. They have already had practical applications. In one example, two young boys were treated for adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a fatal brain disease. 

After refining the treatment for over a decade, European scientists took stem cells from the boy’s bone marrow. The cells were then genetically manipulated to have healthy copies of the gene that causes ALD. The modified cells were transplanted back into the boys’ bodies, stopping the progression of the disease in its tracks. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Affecting over one million Americans, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful type of inflammation. The chronic disease causes stiffness and pain in the joints, sometimes to the point that patients are no longer able to work. As a result, some people who suffer from RA may qualify for disability benefits from Social Security. 

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston collaborated with a team from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge in 2007. Together, they discovered a gene that is directly involved with rheumatoid arthritis. By identifying this gene, the researchers revealed a possible treatment path for RA. 

Information Technology 

Advancements in information and communications technology (ICT) did not only propel telehealth forward. These advancements also had a dramatic impact on in-person patient care as well. Health care providers may have previously needed to sift through piles of physical journals and documentation to get the information they needed.

By the early 2000s, handheld devices similar to consumer smartphones and tablets put a wealth of information at their fingertips. In a matter of seconds, even without going online, doctors could look up medications, check for interactions, and review pharmacology details. This vastly improved the speed at which patients received the care they needed. Similarly, hospital patients are given a barcode that matches up with their blood samples and IVs. 

Cancer Treatments

It is widely understood that cancer cells can die from apoptosis. This is the natural process of programmed cell death. In 2009, Joan Brugge and her colleagues at Harvard Medical School Cell Biology uncovered another possible path to cancer treatment. Along with apoptosis, cancer cells can also die from starvation. If researchers can find a way to disable a cancer cell’s ability to harvest energy, they will have discovered a new strategy to treat cancer. 

Get Help Applying for SSDI Benefits If You Cannot Work

The steady progress of medical science is sometimes buoyed by significant advancements like the ones discussed above. Even with medical breakthroughs, patients can still suffer from their disabling conditions. A treatment isn’t necessarily a cure. If you have a disabling medical condition that prevents substantial gainful employment, you may qualify for benefits.

Applying for benefits can be a nuanced and complex process. Partner with Keefe Disability Law to improve your chances for SSDI approval. We will review your case and strengthen your claim, checking for common errors and supporting your application with the correct documentation and medical evidence. Schedule your free consultation with us today. 

Patrick Hartwig
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Managing Attorney, Keefe Disability Law
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