The Evolution of the Insulin Pump


An insulin pump is a device that administers glucose insulin to individuals with diabetes either manually or by programming continuous administrations throughout the day. The pump contains a catheter connects to a thin tube (cannula) which is placed under the skin and into the fatty tissue (most commonly in the abdomen) through which insulin enters the system.

Insulin PumpInsulin pumps eliminate the need for multiple injections that were once necessary through a syringe. They ease the demands of diabetes management and give individuals with diabetes more flexibility and freedom in day-to-day activities. Replacing injections through a syringe with an insulin pump allows for quick and discreet insulin administration, resulting in fewer swings in blood glucose levels.

Here is a brief timeline of the evolution of the insulin pump:Before the development of insulin pumps, individuals with a diagnosis of diabetes were put on very strict diets of low carbohydrates and a low amount of calories, which resulted in malnutrition and severe outcomes. Thankfully, the insulin pump was developed and has been improving the lives of individuals with diabetes for more than 30 years. Today, that number reaches about 350,000 lives in the United States alone. Throughout this time, there have been many advances in their technology.

1963: Dr. Arnold Kadish developed the first prototype for a pump that had the ability to deliver insulin and glucagon injections. This device was about the size of a microwave and was designed to be worn like a backpack.

1973: Dean Kamen invented the first wearable infusion pump while studying physics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).  This device was used in medical fields such as chemotherapy and endocrinology and was later transformed into the first wearable insulin pump for individuals with diabetes.

1976: The first wearable insulin pump, designed from Dean Kamen’s 1973 invention began to be manufactured and marketed for public use.

1976: Continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion, better known as insulin pump therapy, was developed.

1980: A controlled insulin infusion system was created that acted as an artificial.

1980: An implantable pump was developed and testing began on human subjects.

1982:The first pump that allowed for programming of an individual basal rate was developed.

1986: The implantable insulin pump was implanted in the first patient that was not a test subject.

2003: First insulin pump that also had the ability to monitor glucose levels was developed.

2012: In the United States, trials of artificial pancreases.

2015: First touch screen insulin pump with continuous glucose monitoring that can also deliver insulin in increments as small as 0.001 u/hr at rates about 0.1 u/hr is released to the market.

Insulin pumps have evolved since their invention in 1963 from a microwave-size pump to small devices that are capable of automatizing the process, monitoring the glucose levels and dosing the correct amounts automatically.

These devices have dramatically changed the way people with diabetes manage their blood glucose levels. It is now possible to play sports, swim and have a more mobile life using an insulin pump. We can expect that new, more efficient and intelligent pumps will be developed in the future.


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