| joint dysfunction

Knee Implants and Joint Replacement Surgery: Smart Joints Last Longer

Self-Powered Smart Knee Implants can Prolong the Interval Between Replacement Surgeries

Researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York, have developed a prototype device that may solve a persistent dilemma for younger, active patients who undergo knee replacement procedures. As more joint replacement surgeries are being performed on younger patients, the problem of outlasting the lifespan of the implant has become more acute. Younger patients are typically more physically active, and this activity can exacerbate wear on the implant. But until now it has been difficult for clinicians to monitor the effect of activity on the integrity of the replacement joint. As reported in the journal Smart Materials and Structures, however, a National Institutes of Health funded study at Binghamton University has produced a promising solution to the problem: smart implants.

Lead investigator Shahrzad Towfighian, PhD, assistant professor in mechanical engineering at Binghamton University, summarized, “We are working on a knee implant that has built-in sensors that can monitor how much pressure is being put on the implant so doctors can have a clearer understanding of how much activity is negatively affecting the implant.” The sensors enable clinicians to tailor and adjust activity to minimize wear and prolong the life of the artificial joint, thereby finding the “sweet spot” of exercise and protection that achieves the best outcome for an individual patient. In a further advance, the sensors in the smart implant are powered via triboelectric energy, generated by the friction of surface to surface contact produced by the patient. This eliminates the need for periodic battery replacement, further prolonging the life of the implant and reducing the need for revision surgery to replace the joint.

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The journal abstract may be read here.