Sports Medicine: Game-Changing Technologies
Sports medicine is the fastest growing specialty in orthopedics, attracting more than 25% of orthopedic residents seeking fellowships for the 2010 training year. Since many sports injuries occur in the young athlete, the way an injury is treated early on may be the determining factor in preventing progressive joint changes and the early onset of degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis. The promise of new biomaterials and biologics for repairing or replacing supporting soft tissue structures will have a big impact on the orthopedics market for some time to come.
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Sports medicine is one segment of the device industry that may fare well in the post-health care reform world. New treatments aimed at preserving joint structures may protect young athletes from more invasive procedures down the road.
Injectable products that can alleviate pain and even reverse the disease process are on the horizon for treating degenerative orthopedic and spinal conditions, such as damaged articular joint cartilage and deteriorated spinal discs. With no available long-term treatment options for these conditions short of invasive surgical procedures like joint replacement or spinal fusion, injectable technologies that offer the possibility of being used upstream in the continuum of care are potential billion-dollar market opportunities. In fact, in a post health care reform environment, injectable therapies may prove to be the most cost-effective way for treating many degenerative conditions.
Privately held ConforMIS Inc. is reintroducing customization to the large joint. It launched two new resurfacing tools this year and hopes to introduced a third, called iTotal, next year as a potential alternative to total knee implants.