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‘Smart’ Implant Technology Built Into Knee Replacements

August 10, 2023

Kathy playing golf

Big data is entering medicine in fascinating ways. For example, take the case of Kathy C. who recently underwent knee replacement surgery and emerged with a new titanium knee – equipped with a built-in ‘smart’ tracker. This tiny, implantable data mining device has not only helped customize Kathy’s rehabilitation regimen for a better long-term outcome, but it will also allow orthopedic surgeons around the world to build predictive recovery models for future knee replacement patients. Quite amazing.

Saying Yes to a ‘Smart’ Knee

In February 2023 at 65 years old, Kathy decided it was time to finally undergo a total knee replacement. At the time, she was president of Morristown Medical Center’s Women’s Association, so researching surgeons came easily to her. She chose John Dundon, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Atlantic Health System, who specializes in hip and knee replacement.

“When you need it, you need it,” says Kathy. “The cartilage in my knee was so damaged that it was restricting my movement and making it very painful to walk. Dr. Dundon assured me that a total knee replacement could get me walking comfortably again and even get me back on the golf course without all the angst and pain.”

However, 10 days before Kathy’s scheduled surgery, she received a phone call from Dr. Dundon that prompted some additional research. He informed her about a new data tracking technology for total knee replacements called Persona IQ® that was recently approved at Morristown Medical Center and that he was the first orthopedic surgeon in New Jersey – and among the first in the world – to perform surgery using this new device. He explained all the benefits of the ‘smart’ knee gathering real-time data throughout her recovery. He also told her that she was a good candidate for its use and could become his first patient to receive this new knee.

Kathy didn’t take this decision lightly. “I listened to Dr. Dundon speak passionately about future technology in orthopedic surgery. I googled 'smart knee' and read about its beginnings. I trusted Dr. Dundon and decided I should support new technology since I am a ‘frequent flyer’ at Morristown Medical Center with two spine surgeries and shoulder, Achilles tendon, and hand/wrist procedures. Also, my family created an orthopedic endowment at the hospital for education and research, so I wanted to support new procedures and technologies. And so, I said ‘yes.’

I feel really happy about being part of such a pioneering new treatment. I’m the only one of my friends who has a smart knee. They all just have ‘regular’ knees.”

Patient, Kathy C.

How Does Persona IQ Work?

A small sensor in Kathy’s knee implant records and transmits multiple gait data points, which are securely stored on a cloud platform that both Kathy and Dr. Dundon can access. Using a dashboard called mymobility®, they can track her postoperative range of motion, step count, walking speed and various metrics for a full year following the surgery. All of this is monitored from their smart phones or desktop computers.

“Kathy’s results have been incredibly positive,” says Dr. Dundon. “She has been extremely receptive to the increased connectivity this technology has built between her recovery milestones and her patient care team. It has also increased engagement between Kathy and me by providing us with meaningful information in between our in-person office visits. This helps reduce Kathy’s concerns about her progress and provides us with valuable, meaningful insight into her recovery.”

Getting to the Other Side

Kathy believes the implanted tracker has made her more aware and engaged in her recovery process. “Having the tracker makes me work harder,” she says, noting her commitment to physical therapy, both in the office and at home. “I watched my progress improve every day on my smartphone. I knew my medical team was watching, too, so I wasn’t going to sit around. I pushed myself, and I saw my numbers keep improving. Recovery from a knee replacement is very painful, especially when you must push yourself to bend your knee. But, I did keep pushing because my numbers were trending in the right direction. Within three months, I was completely pain-free.”

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, knee replacement surgery is one of the most common, and most successful, surgical procedures in all of medicine. Adding Persona IQ to an already highly successful surgery creates a formula for customized rehabilitation that will lead to even better long-term results for patients.

“I feel really happy about being part of such a pioneering new treatment,” Kathy says, noting that she has a few friends with traditional knee replacements. “I’m the only one of my friends who has a smart knee. They all just have ‘regular’ knees.”

Be Proactive About Your Health

If you are experiencing joint pain or discomfort, it may be time to make an appointment with a doctor. Our orthopedists have you covered so you can quickly get back to your healthiest self.

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