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Orthopaedic implants for the future

Posted June 22, 2018

The hardware that hold orthopaedic implants together must have some give in order to accommodate physiology. Think of the Golden Gate Bridge—the hardware needs to hold the steel beams in place, but the bridge itself flexes and bends with weight and wind. At the Biedermann Lab for Orthopaedic Research, specialists are studying and designing the hardwares’ minutiae to improve upon the intricacies of setting a broken bone in place.

The original “Sauerbruch arm”.

A study from 2016, led by Biedermann Lab director Michael Hast and Samir Mehta, chief of orthopaedic trauma, evaluated the impact of repetitive arm use on the plates and screws used to hold orthopaedic implants. Bones require a degree of flexibility, and the researchers found that using an alternative screw with a locking cap proved more durable over time. Future projects include the design for bioengineered 3-D bones and cartilage.

The research and innovation at the Biedermann Lab follows a tradition that began with prosthetics. In Germany, the Biedermann family were pioneers in prosthetics. In 1916, Max Biedermann and Ferdinand Sauerbruch created the “Sauerbruch arm,” the first prosthetic to allow people who still had muscle function below their elbow to operate the mechanics. Biedermann’s descendants established the lab at Penn Medicine. The research the lab performs is selected by committee, and the projects benefit from collaboration. “It’s truly about sharing ideas, and sharing our data with our colleagues around the world,” says Hast.

Source: University of Pennsylvania

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