Life Changing Orthopaedic Trends

Image Credits: Digital Journals 

Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo 

Necessity is dubbed the mother of invention. With the unfoldment of the pandemic, life as we know it had to change. Working from home became the norm, and the digitization of many things became a new standard. Doctors visits that once were in person, became virtual in order to keep everyone safe and healthy. 

Medical technology is constantly advancing, and the tools that benefit patients and doctors are often the ones that are classified as “trending”. As 2023 unfolds and has its own unique design, there are a few trends in Orthopaedic care that hope to make a lasting impact in your health and wellness journey. 

  1. The increase in digital technology 

Digital tools are helping to optimise orthopaedic care at various stages of the patient journey. From diagnosis, to actual treatment inclusive of surgery, there are a variety of tools on the market that are aiming to provide the best in custom care. Previous analytical tools were not integrated into each phase of the patient care cycle. In the past for example images from an X-Ray machine, or those generated from other scanning technologies, would be printed on a film. Digital images from these critical diagnostic tools are now currently available, and can be integrated into downstream technologies such as 3-D printers, or be utilised as part of the plan for a surgical procedure. 

These changes improve the ability of healthcare providers to increase their diagnosis and treatment speed, as well as improve general healthcare costs. 

  1. The rise in virtual orthopaedic and physiotherapy visits 

The pandemic made virtual conversation a current global standard. The medical field is not exempt from this benefit. More doctors have embraced virtual visits, and enable their patients to share their current health statuses, from the comfort of their home. Medical care providers are now able to include these virtual visits in the patient healthcare plan.

In the fitness realm, there are tools such as a Vaha mirror, that actually converts to a full size screen that enables the interaction between the trainer and the trainee. Exercise demonstrations can be communicated between the two, and a full class can be conducted from the comfort of either party’s homes. Physical therapists are now currently utilising telehealth specific platforms, in order to conduct their physical therapy lessons. Traditional physical therapy sessions required the utilisation of face to face meetings, and modern methods can achieve similar results virtually through any smart device, including a phone. 

  1. Embracing the Metaverse 

Augmented reality is currently no longer reserved for video game lovers. As medical technology has embraced the tool, medical training, surgical planning and general medical knowledge exchange is now possible. The brain is an image driven mechanism, and many students learn via the utilisation of the five senses. The utilisation of cadavers for medical training can be a costly activity. Via the utilisation of augmented reality, medical students can experience topics such as anatomy in a new way that enables them to visualise the varying organ systems at any time of the day, not just in the classroom setting. With their prior experiences, medical students are more confident as they enter a physical operating room for their actual practice. 

  1. Embracing orthopaedic tracking devices 

As all tools become smarter and smarter, wearables like smart watches are becoming more standard. Within the realm of sports medicine, orthopaedic devices have been helpful to sports doctors as they can track critical athlete health parameters. These can include heart rates, calorie consumption and steps taken. In recent news, 24 year old football player Damar Hamlin recently suffered from a heart condition in the middle of a football game. Fortunately his medical team was equipped to handle his injury. 

From a medical perspective, prevention is better than cure, and enabling orthopaedic patients to keep track of patient performance, will enable better care. Understanding a parameters trend over time, will identify patterns that will indicate if there is an underlying problem that should be treated. 

  1. 3-D Printing Technologies 

Ageing populations, and certain lifestyles such as intense athletics,  place a higher demand on orthopaedic services. 3-D printing provides the means to supply appropriate orthopaedic equipment, such as prosthetics or custom orthotics.  

  1. Encouraging Self-Healing 

Technological treatments are best utilised as the path of last resort. The new era of medicine is now the era of self-healing, where the body’s own mechanisms are utilised in order to catalyse regenerative properties from within. Stem cell applications and the utilisation of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), has helped to improve many foot and ankle conditions, and improve joint health.  

Reference: 

The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics: Future Trends 

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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