A Knee Replacement That Talks to Your Doctor? It’s Just the Beginning.

As a ‘smart knee’ that transmits data rolls out, medical specialists and engineers predict sensors will be added to artificial hips, shoulders and spinal implants

In coming years, your new artificial joints will tell the doctor how they’re doing. Already, a “smart knee” from medical-device maker Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc., introduced in 2021, comes with built-in sensors developed by Canary Medical Inc. that can wirelessly transmit a slew of data about how the replacement knee is working.

The details about your gait are sent daily to your orthopedic doctor, who can track your step counts, range of motion and other metrics in the months and years after surgery. Doctors tracking the information can reassure patients who are hitting recovery milestones. Or, if the performance measures fall short, a doctor may intervene to avoid having a patient stuck with an underperforming artificial knee, such as ordering a change in the patient’s physical-therapy regimen.

That’s just the beginning, say doctors and medical-device engineers. They predict sensors will be added to artificial hips, shoulders, and spinal implants. And they envision uses beyond orthopedics, such as tracking whether a brain aneurysm is about to burst, and whether implanted hearing aids or vision devices need to be fine-tuned.

“Using sensors to get data from a patient, you can have thousands of data points to analyze and figure out exatly what’s going on with a patient,” says Edward Harvey, a trauma surgeon and professor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal. Dr. Harvey runs a lab that develops implanted sensors, including one to temporarily assess muscle damage in trauma patients.

Zimmer’s orthopedics rivals are also getting into the market. Johnson & Johnson is developing a sensor-equipped version of its surgical trauma plates, which are implanted devices used to stabilize bone fractures while they’re healing.

By Peter Loftus | The Wall Street Journal

Image Credit: Bianca Dunn / WSJ


About Peter Coffaro 510 Articles
Peter Coffaro is a growth-driven and strategic executive with over 25 years of progressive management success in the medical device industry. With a proven track record and recognized expertise, Peter has established himself as one of the top influencers in medical sales, as acknowledged by prestigious publications such as the World Journal of Orthopedics, Exponential Healthtech, and MedReps.com. Throughout his career, Peter has accumulated 10 years of combined sales management experience, excelling in various roles including Director, General Manager, Distributor, and Vice President. He has worked for industry-leading orthopedic companies such as Zimmer, DePuy, and Stryker, solidifying his deep knowledge and network within the field. Peter’s passion for innovation and emerging technologies led him to found OrthoFeed, an award-winning blog covering digital orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Through this platform, he stays at the forefront of the industry and contributes to the dissemination of valuable insights. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson, demonstrating his exceptional contributions and impact on the organization. His expertise extends to areas such as organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing, and professional education. Peter earned a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry from Northern Illinois University, further complementing his comprehensive understanding of the medical field. With his wealth of experience, strategic mindset, and dedication to advancing healthcare, Peter Coffaro is a valuable asset and leader in the medical device industry.

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