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      This Implantable Medical Device Treats Tendon Issues And Sports Injuries

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      It isn’t exactly Star Wars medical technology. There are no 2-1B droids to diagnose and treat all the ills and injuries in the galaxy. But a team of bioengineer researchers has literally taken a step in that direction with technology that enables tissue regeneration. And it’s powered by walking.

      Implantable Piezoelectric Medical Device Regenerates Tissue

      New call-to-actionWhat we’re talking about is an implantable piezoelectric medical device that stimulates and speeds up the treatment of musculoskeletal diseases. More specifically, it accelerates tissue regeneration in the targeted treatment of tendon damage, tendon disease, and sports injuries, all without the benefit of drugs or external stimulation.

      “One of the most exciting parts of our study is that these implantable devices may be tailored to individual patients or disorders and may show promise in accelerating the repair of sports-related tendon injuries, particularly in athletes,” says Dr. Manus Biggs, the study’s lead researcher at CÚRAM – a global medical device research center at the National University of Ireland Galway.

      The kicker is that the device is powered by body movement.

      Biggs’ team of researchers found that, when coupled with exercise, electrical stimulation from the implanted device can control tendon cell function and repair – something that could be especially beneficial, for example, in the treatment of tendon ruptures or tendon disease.

      How does it work?

      Using a piezoelectric material (or fabric-like mesh), the device produces electricity when it is stretched or placed under mechanical pressure. The material is made using a scaffold of nanofibers that are no more than one-thousandth the thickness of a human hair.

      “Our discovery shows that an electrical charge is produced in the treatment target area – the damaged or injured tendon – when the implanted device is stretched during walking,” says Dr. Marc Fernandez, who executed the principal research at CÚRAM. “The potential gamechanger here is like a power switch in a cell - the electrical stimulus turns on tendon-specific regenerative processes in the damaged tendon.”

      Tendon Technology Has its Share of Advantages

      Such technological advancement figures to be beneficial for several reasons, according to the CÚRAM research team:

      • Severe tendon injuries affect more than 102 million adults every year, mostly the result of athletic or repetitive activity, according to a 2015 report in Nature Reviews Rheumatology.

      • The annual cost of tendon injuries factors out to about $2 billion, much of that the result of post-surgery complications that result in an estimated million days of inpatient care.

      • Surgical interventions frequently fail to restore full tendon functionality

      • Less chance of infection with implanted devices than with penetrating electrodes used in electronic stimulation units used in spinal fusion procedures and non-healing tissue injuries

      • Higher rate of patient compliance with implanted devices than cumbersome electronic stimulation units

      “Importantly, our research improved the therapeutic performance of the device by enhancing its structure, piezoelectric characteristics, and biological compatibility,” says Fernandez. “We also evaluated the individual influence of mechanical, structural, and electrical cues on tendon cell function and were able to show that bioelectric cues contribute significantly in promoting tendon repair.”

      What does the future hold for these devices?

      According to Biggs: “These devices are cost-effective, relatively easy to implant and may pave the way for a whole new class of regenerative electrical therapies. This unique strategy of combining a device that is powered through body movement and which can induce accelerated tendon-healing is expected to significantly impact the field of regenerative devices, specifically in the area of sports or trauma-associated injuries.

      Results of the study are published in the journal Advanced Materials. (See link below).

      At The Forefront of Technology

      schedule a demo with insync healthcare solutionsWhen it comes to technological advancement, InSync Healthcare Solutions is at the forefront of EHR system technologies. As a  national leader in physical therapy and practice management software, we continuously roll out updates and enhancements to meet the evolving needs of our tens of thousands of healthcare providers across all 50 states. 

      For a closer look at how our interoperable, mobile-friendly and configurable software system can dramatically improve workflows in your practice, schedule a demo now with one of our experts. We're happy to answer questions and explain how we can tailor our system to meet your particular needs.


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