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Technology & Innovation

Defying Age in Sports Medicine Orthopedics

Technology & Innovation

Great emphasis is on staying youthful today. As technologies become more advanced, we are now able to “bend the aging curve” and a healthier, longer life, especially for active lifestyles. We often forget that looking and feeling young are entities that should be combined. While the cosmetic surgeon’s goal is to make you look beautiful and wrinkle free, the functional equivalent in sports medicine is “living young” and pushing the body harder throughout. A goal is to have top physical appearance AND performance.

If you are an avid athlete or workout at the gym, your appearance won’t fool anyone if you are unable to throw a ball to your child or walk up the stairs without pain. Fifty is the new 30. Orthopedic sports medicine has played an integral role in people extending their activity curves well into their ‘80s.

Driven by the multi-billion dollar, fast-paced world of professional sports, orthopedic surgeons have developed sports medicine techniques to keep patients with a physically demanding lifestyle both stronger and active longer.

These advanced techniques are only performed by a select few. Athletes, in particular, put immense stress on joints and have a great need to return to activity in the quickest time.

Eager to get back in the game, athletes of all levels — from professionals to “weekend warriors” — seek the best in medical treatment and are willing to travel great distances to get the best procedures and treatments.

When professional athletes receive treatment from a particular sports surgeon or medical center, the attention given can often inspire non-professional athletes to seek similar procedures and treatments. All athletes have a passion for both sport and recovering in a timely fashion.

Over time, cartilage wears down. Until recently, the only way to repair knee cartilage was in a full joint replacement operation. Now, some forms of knee arthritis are treatable with “partial replacements.” instead.

There are two types of knee cartilage:

• Articular cartilage – Ends of each bone are covered with this smooth substance. Articular cartilage serves two purposes:

– Minimizes friction and wear of bone surfaces

– Spreads loads applied to a joint

• Meniscus – Two C-shaped wedges called menisci. Medial and lateral menisci cushion the femur and tibia. These rubber-like shock absorbers improve the fit of the two bones. The menisci are the parts of the knee damaged and referred to as “torn cartilage.”

It’s not just about dealing with an injury, but about preventing further ailments and improving quality of life.

Athletes with a torn rotator cuff once were forced to give up their sport and active lifestyles and, as previously mentioned, those with a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) often had to resort to a full joint replacement later in life. New technologies physically preserve youth.

Arthroscopic surgery today is far less invasive, allowing most surgeries on an outpatient basis with little to no hospital stay in state-of-the-art facilities. Arthroscopic patching of joints can help prevent the natural degradation to arthritis.

Maintiaing natural joints is a huge benefit; this alone can help one feel younger longer. Taking the necessary steps today to address joint pain can prevent prolonged discomfort and possible full replacements later in life.

DeNovo NT is an exciting new procedure in orthopedic sports medicine that reduces pain and swelling, and enables the injured to go about normal activities. In short, a DeNovo NT is an implantation of cartilage taken from healthy donors and placed in the affected knee. This cartilage is then sealed with protein-based glue.

In time, approximately three months, cells from the donor cartilage begin to multiply and create new growth. There have been cases where patients had been told there were no options to treat their defective cartilage. Technological advancements, like DeNovo NT, were being utilized by only a select few.

Refusing to believe there were no other options, patients took it upon themselves to research alternative procedures. Many based their investigations on which facilities top athletes had travelled to and for what procedures. DeNovo NT is great for athletes who seek a quick return to sport with renewed mobility.

Surgical technologies have advanced to where they can change the quality of life and make decisions to travel for international athletes easier. Pre-consultation with a patient is necessary.

Understanding that an international patient’s time is limited and valuable, MRIs, CAT scans, x-rays, and notes from previous doctors can determine if a candidate is fit to travel for a procedure.

A 55-year-old patient once considered for a full knee replacement but who learned of new advances from his referring physician can arrive on a Sunday, visit a doctor on Monday, undergo surgery Tuesday, and return overseas without using a cane that same week.

Post-operative pain is controlled by regional blocks instead of narcotics, making traveling home easier. Other technologies, such as Smartphone applications that feature step-by-step, post-operative instructions and Skype, which enables interaction with the performing surgeon or physician assistant, have made international travel for advanced healthcare easy for professional athletes.

Other sports medicines, such as biologics or platelet-rich plasma once reserved only for professional athletes are now available to all. Professionals and “weekend warriors” with a physically demanding lifestyle have access to these blood injections that promote healing and recovery both surgically and non-surgical.

It’s not just about dealing with an injury, but about preventing further ailments and improving quality of life. Feeling good is just as important as looking good. Anyone who does not feel young will not look young, no matter how many hours are spent at the gym or in plastic surgery.

To “live young,” people need to feel young. Thanks to new technologies, international patients have access to the very best medical and concierge care in New York City with little or no change to either their bodies or lifestyles.

Surgical technologies have advanced to where they can change the quality of life and make decisions to travel for international athletes easier.

About the Author

Dr. Jonathan L. Glashow is an orthopedic surgeon, co-chief of sports medicine/associate clinical professor at Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York, and chief medical officer/team physician for the Philadelphia 76ers, of the National Basketball Association. As a private practitioner for 20 years, Dr. Glashow specializes in shoulder, knee and hip injuries. His clinical and research interests include arthroscopic cartilage repair and transplantation, ACL reconstruction, rotator cuff, and labrum tears. Castle Connolly, a major healthcare research company, has repeatedly ranked Dr. Glashow among America’s Best Doctors; New York magazine has featured him in numerous annual Best Doctors issues; and he has been listed as one of the New York Metropolitan Area’s Best Doctors since 2000.

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