How IU Health hopes to solve one of patients' top complaints after joint replacements

IU Health Saxony Hospital's new lab will study how patients walk prior to surgeries

IU Health Saxony Hospital is opening a new laboratory that will attempt to solve one of joint replacement patients' most common post-surgery complaints, Chris O'Malley writes for Crain's Indianapolis.

Making a statement

The 42-bed hospital, which opened only five years ago, now performs the largest volume of primary and revision hip and knee replacements in the Indiana University Health system, which is the largest in the state. It also boasts a length of stay that was second only to that of Emory St. Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta last year.

At the same time, the hospital has taken on many complex cases. About 23 percent of the hospital's patients are morbidly obese, compared with a national rate of 6 percent.

O'Malley writes that the facility's acceptance of high-risk cases can be attributed to its research focus. IU Health Saxony has the state's only fellowship program for hip and knee replacement.

The hospital also has partnered with other major research organizations including Los Alamos National Laboratory, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and OrthoCarolina.

New lab

Now, IU Health Saxony is opening a new laboratory that will research how patients walk before their surgeries.

The Kinematics Gait Laboratory hopes to apply its findings to help patients walk in the same way they did before the procedure. Among patients' top complaints after surgery is that  they walk with a different gait than they did previously, O'Malley writes.

According to Meneghini, research shows that about 20 percent of knee replacement patients are not pleased with their replacement. Even so, little research has been conducted into how to help patients replicate their prior gait.

IU Health will invest about $100,000 in the new lab, which will house a treadmill with specialized sensors to measure patients' walking style.

"If we can tailor the surgical techniques and have varying implant designs to recreate your normal gait, you'll feel better," Meneghini said (O'Malley, Crain's Indianapolis, 12/2; Gooch, Becker's Infection Control & Clinical Quality, 12/7).

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