bones & joints

Roy Parker was not going to let arthritis interfere with the ‘golden years’ of retirement. When the joint condition became progressively worse in both his knees over the three years after retirement, he decided to see his doctor. “Instead of being able to use the additional time to enjoy outdoor pursuits like mountain biking and walking over the nearby South Downs, I found the pain in my knees was restricting my activities so much that I was becoming more socially isolated,” the 68-year-old from Worthing, UK tells MedTech Views. “For example, my wife and I had not planned our usual holiday because I did not think I would be able to manage the inevitable walking around. Any distance over a few hundred metres was painful.” He was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon, who agreed with Roy that two knee replacements would be the best plan. “I was pleased at the speed of the process. The consultation was on the 15th May, my left knee was replaced on the 23rd May and the right on the 14th June,” Roy says. His doctor used cutting-edge artificial knee technology specifically designed to get patients back to their normal lives faster than ever by delivering a high level of stability and motion. Nevertheless, Roy was surprised by his speedy recovery. “Coming away from the consultation, I chatted to a man who had a knee replaced three weeks before, who was still using two sticks. I didn't use two sticks after leaving the hospital and only one for the first day home. I thought the feeling in my knees was immediately better after the operations than with my arthritic joints,” he explains. Roy also stunned his doctors when he cycled to his follow-up appointment two weeks after the first surgery. “I think I had positive...
1. What is your day-to-day work like? How do you help improve or save people's lives through your work? I’m an orthopaedic surgeon working at Reinier de Graaf hospital in Delft; I’ve been working here since 2005. A large teaching hospital, I specialise in hip surgery, hip arthroplasty and hip revision. I also work in traumatology. I perform around 300 hip replacements a year. The majority of my patients are elderly although I still perform surgeries on the relatively young, patients who suffer from severe arthritis at a young or have congenital deformities in the hip. My job is very rewarding. Patients come in to the hospital with significant hip pain and have a limited range of motion or sometimes are even completely immobile. Hip replacement surgery transforms their health and quality-of-life and to see this transformation is really satisfying. 2. What do you think are the key challenges facing the healthcare system and your profession in particular? For healthcare, it’s without doubt the growing healthcare costs. Fortunately in the Netherlands, we somehow have been able to reduce costs and the healthcare budget has more or less stabilised, bucking the trend compared to other EU Member States. Tremendous efforts and cost-cutting measures have been put in place in order to reduce the budget; however, such cost reduction has made it difficult to innovate and bring new techniques to improve patient treatment, care and outcomes. As an orthopaedic surgeon, one of the major challenges is to enhance our patient focus and improve healthcare to be more patient-centred in its approach. We’ve come a long way but there’s still a lot to do. More connectedness in healthcare such as high-quality apps are a great way of being more patient-focused but we can improve further. As an orthopaedic surgeon, one of the major...
Representatives of Health Authorities and Payers seem to have mixed feelings about orthopaedic implants. They all know someone in their immediate environment who has had a new knee or a new hip and who is very satisfied with it. They also know that these people have regained their quality of life after a long period of pain and reduced mobility. Yet, when they look at their budgets, they get cold sweat. There are indeed good reasons to be worried. A simple look at demographic predictions reveals that 21% of the EU population will be over 65 in just 5 years from now - a 4% jump from 2010. Predictions for 2060 are even more worrying, with 1 out of 3 citizens over 65. All over Europe, budgetary measures have been taken to try to make our generous social systems sustainable and orthopaedic implants have not been overlooked. Unfortunately for manufacturers, but most importantly for patients, implants do appear very prominently on the bill, making them an easy target when it comes to budget cuts. After all, it is much easier for any authority to ask for a discount than to implement complex in-house structural reforms. In addition, in some countries, such as Germany, public opinion has been given the impression that use of implants is too high, only because the number of hip and knee implants is one of the highest in Europe. But before answering the question of overuse in Germany or underuse in other countries, one should answer the question of when the appropriate time for surgery in the care pathways is, and what is the economic impact of implementing this. We need solid scientific background to demonstrate that timely surgery is beneficial for both patients and health systems -in Germany and elsewhere-, and not a waste of...
Self-management I guess I’m an expert on patient issues by experience. I’ve had a chronic condition for nearly 60 years and would consider myself a self-managing patient rather than a passive recipient of care, actively trying to control my condition. I consider all the options available in the NHS and worldwide, not only the usual treatment route but also how complementary medicine can help my condition as well as taking different approaches to my diet and exercise. I feel more empowered, happier and healthier when I’m in control of my health and I’m managing my condition. Some patients are looking for that magic bullet, going to their doctor to get medicine, get treated and trying to get on with their life. But for me and other patients with multiple chronic diseases, actively monitoring my health is crucial. My MedTech I have a few devices to hand when I need them. I am at home right now and wearing an alarm alert device around my neck. This is just a precaution should there be a problem and my wife is not around to help. I have a stairlift fitted in my home to help me get upstairs and I use a powered wheelchair which is essential for my condition. I travel regularly as a patient advocate, particularly to Brussels and in this case I use a standard wheelchair. I go occasionally to the doctor or the hospital for a blood test or an x-ray and to get my blood pressure checked, all of which are part of medtech. Rheumatology There have been a lot of biological treatments in the rheumatology field and for those who are treated early, they can be revolutionary. These treatments are extremely expensive however, and won’t make much difference to me at this stage of my condition...
MedTech at the World Cup
Tonight, Brazil and Croatia will kick off what promises to be a great month for football fans the world over. And what will make it extra special for us in the MedTech industry is that the first kick will be given by a paralysed teenager. This remarkable feat is made possible thanks to an exo-skeleton controlled by the teenager’s brain. While I’m sure we are still a few years away from these medical devices becoming a mainstream treatment option for paralysis, it is great to see that they get mainstream attention thanks to events like the World Cup. The Walk Again Project is headed by Duke University's Center for Neuroengineering in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich and a number of other universities and research groups worldwide. Together they are designing the exo-skeleton and a 3D printed helmet that contains a series of electrodes capable of capturing brain waves. This brain activity will then initiate the suit's movements. And exo-skeletons are not the only medical technologies making the rounds in mainstream media as of late. Great stories are popping up more and more, lately. I've already discussed it in my previous blog on how ICT-companies are entering the healthcare arena, and since then, i've seen several new articles, blogposts and videos from well-known brands touting how they are (partly) improving real people's lives. Take this video by Microsoft which was aired at the 2014 Super Bowl and gives an overview of how technology in general, and medical technology specifically has improved the lives of countless people around the world. Another remarkable video is this one from Duracell where an American Football player tells the story of how, despite being deaf, he managed to become a professional NFL player and play in the Super Bowl thanks to his hearing aid...
In my article in the newsletter of last August, I told you about the standard rehabilitation support I receive as outpatient of spinal cord injury (SCI), and how I have had to work for access to more personalised treatment, which has brought to where I am today. However, be that as it may, my current state of rehabilitation remains insufficient and my search for better alternatives continues.