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Gut play: look inside your insides in real time

Alanah Frost, August 6, 2020 6:45PM Herald Sun

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Zhuying Li (right) with her gut technology invention, with some help playing the game from Wei Wang. Picture: Wayne Taylor media_cameraZhuying Li (right) with her gut technology invention, with some help playing the game from Wei Wang. Picture: Wayne Taylor

technology

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Ever wondered what the inside of your stomach looks like?

Now you can see for yourself with some quirky new Australian technology.

Victorian researchers have combined medical imaging with digital play to give endoscopy patients real-time vision of their insides to help take the worry out of healthcare.

Endoscopy is a procedure used in healthcare to look inside the body — including in the digestive system — with a special camera to check for disease, injury or blockage.

By swallowing a tiny video capsule, patients are being given the chance to “play” video-type games with their own body and watch as the video is projected onto a screen.

This allows them to see the capsule as it rolls through the gastrointestinal* tract* and use their body to manoeuvre* it from side to side.

Gut Technology Play media_cameraZhuying Li holds a camera capsule. Picture: Wayne Taylor

The invention, called InsideOut, is a collaboration* between Monash University, RMIT and Deakin University and aims to involve patients and humanise* procedures.

Monash PhD student Zhuying Li helped design the technology and said it was about making patients view their healthcare in a different — and fun — light.

“Patients usually don’t engage with the procedure or their data – so what if they could?” she said.

“It made us think about if we could make a serious medical procedure more playful and engaging.”

Endoscopies are a common and simple medical procedure but they can often be the source of anxiety as patients are unaware of what is happening “inside.”

Ms Li said not only did it give patients a look at their own anatomy*, but it also broke down the barriers between doctor and patient.

“People like to quantify* their step counts and heartbeat, so what if they could know more about their interior too,” she said.

She said while InsideOut had only been trialled in healthy people, researchers were hopeful it could soon be used in hospitals and even non-medical settings.

“In the future we think patients in endoscopy can benefit from this and inspire future design to make other medical procedures more fun — and in non-medical play so designers can be inspired to use technologies to let people know more about their body,” Ms Li said.

Small intestine anatomy of male media_cameraMany of us count our steps and measure our heart rate and it could reduce worry about what’s going on inside us if we could see into our digestive system too.

FASCINATING FACTS
The entire adult human gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus* is about 9m long.

It takes about 6-8 hours for food you eat to move through the stomach and small intestine.

How long it takes from eating foot to excreting* it as faeces* when you go to the toilet varies depending on the person and what they eat and how much they drink. It’s usually between two and five days.

GLOSSARY

  • gastrointestinal: to do with the digestive system
  • tract: passage or path
  • manoeuvre: move around to get through a space
  • collaboration: working with someone together on something
  • humanise: makes something more humane and civilised
  • anatomy: science to do with body structure
  • quantify: measure
  • anus: the opening where poo leaves your body
  • excreting: getting rid of, in this case pooing
  • faeces: poo

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Human poo study finds microplastics

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What is this invention called?
  2. What is it for?
  3. Who invented it?
  4. How long is the average human digestive system?
  5. How long does it take to digest food?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Invent a Game
Invent a game that people can play with their own bodies using the InsideOut technology. Write a description of your game, rules and the aim of the game. Use drawings or designs to help you. Don’t forget to give the game a great name.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Design and Technologies

2. Extension
Imagine you are part of Zhuyhing Li’s team of scientists. Our Kids News reporter has asked you this question: “Why are you working on making a serious medical procedure playful and fun? Shouldn’t you be working on serious things?”

Write a detailed and convincing answer to this question.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Design and Technologies, Science

VCOP ACTIVITY
I Spy Nouns
Nouns are places, names (of people and objects), and time (months or days of the week).

How many nouns can you find in the article?

Can you sort them into places, names and time?

Pick 3 nouns and add an adjective (describing word) to the nouns.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Would you like to see inside your gut?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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