Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I left early to present my work at a conference, so I haven't described my last week at the hospital nor properly acknowledged the help of the clinicians I worked with. I worked on two research projects and observed surgery for a total hip revision.
The first project I presented a case study on a failed shoulder implant to the biomechanics research group. I looked at the records and radiographs and the removed implant to see what happened. The glenoid socket replacement had worn out, causing the person pain so that she had to get it replaced last year. Shoulder replacements do not last as long as hip or knee replacements and they are much less common. When joint replacements wear, the particles cause an osteolytic response in the immune system that tries to digest the metal or plastic particles, and the surrounding bone. This makes a revision difficult to put in, especially in the shoulder where so little bone exists.
During the hip revision surgery, the attending surgeon showed us the damaged bone affected by osteolysis. It had the consistency of gritty toothpaste. In the surgery the cavity was repacked with synthetic bone replacement.
The other project I worked on was for an in-vivo study of wrist motion to establish a better plane of motion for functional evaluation than the current flexion-extension and radial-ulnar. I worked with a physical therapist to craft a model with thermoplastic used in standard wrist splints but with make-shift hinges to allow the wrist to be positioned in a variety of angles. Then I created a CAD drawing of the same so they can get a machinist to make a working model for their experiments.
A huge thank you goes to Dr Sherry Backus of the Motion Analysis lab for facilitating my stay at Hospital for Special Surgery and helping with the implant project. To Dr Wolfe, hand surgeon, who let me observe a surgery of his and included me in the other research project. Aviva Wolfe and others in Hand Therapy who let me watch their work that also has a lot to do with engineering proper bracing and loadings. Others at the Motion Analysis, Brian, Dr Hillstrom, Corinne... Thanks to Biomechanical engineering, especially Dr Maher who arranged so many visits to the OR and Dr Wright who handled the implant study. Thanks also to BME and Dr Wang for hosting such a great program.

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