KEEPING UP WITH BOOMERS’ AGING JOINTS Replacements have evolved as people stay active for longer.
In the first joint replacement surgery in 1890, German Themistocles Gluck implanted “carved and machined pieces of ivory” into joints diseased by tuberculosis, said medical historian and author Dr. David Schneider.
The implants used today, as well as those doing the implanting, are radically different.
Over the past century, the replacement have evolved to include metal, plastic and ceramics, and are now made of titanium, cobalt chrome and specially reinforced plastics.
Something else has also changed: the psychology of the patients, specifically, baby boomers. Now in their 50s, 60s and 70s, they represent about half of the patients for the most common knee and hip replacements. “This is the first generation that is trying to stay active on an aging frame,” said Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, an orthopedic surgeon in Havertown, Penn. , who coined the term “boomeritis.”
This change in attitude is a striking difference in the patient population, and some say it has helped drive the advances in orthopedic surgery and has transformed the operating theater.
Today, of a bone implant can be superimposed on a 3-D model of a patient’s joint, said Robert Cohen, president of digital, robotics and enabling technologies for Stryker’s orthopedic joint replacement division in Mahwah, N.J. “This information is imported directly into the robot in the OR.”
About 1,000 robots manufactured by his company, Cohen said , help perform about 15,000 joint replacement procedures a month in over 850 hospitals . That number is expected to increase.
DiNubile said, “I think arthritis and joint deterioration are here to stay.”