In June of this year, my 57-year-old sister, Sarah, had double knee implants. She has the scars to prove it as you would not believe that she has dual knee implants just by looking at her!
In a previous post, I mentioned that my 82-year-old dad has also had both of his knees replaced (twice). So, you can bet that I am trying to take extra care of my knees (think: whirpool, massage, extra vitamins). However, due to genetics and sports injuries there is no guarantee that I won’t need a knee implant at some point in my life.
It’s no wonder that our knees wear out—they bear five times our body weight with each step we take. Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA), which replaces damaged or diseased joint surfaces of the knee with metal and plastic components, is performed about 580,000 times a year in the U.S. alone. It is currently the solution that provides the most relief to patients. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons calls knee replacement, “one of the most important surgical advancements of the 20th Century.”
Thankfully, researchers, like those at Smith & Nephew, are dedicated to improving the design of knee implants. Their goals are to make the artificial knees easier to implant while working better and lasting longer. In 2007 Smith & Nephew (the U.K.’s largest medical technology company) established the European Centre for Knee Research in Leuven, Belgium to drive TKA research and innovation. They have developed new knee replacements that have been designed to last 30 years, double the time of previous designs. You can view their commericial for their newest products on You Tube here.
Recently, our communications team had a chance to interview the Centre’s project manager for Numerical Kinematics, Bernardo Innocenti, M.E., Ph.D. It’s pretty cool that they are using Abaqus FEA from SIMULIA to explore and improve their knee implant designs.
Dr. Innocenti kindly explained some of the details of their design and simulation process to us. “When you replace a knee, you are trying to replicate the behavior of biological materials, like bones, cartilage and ligaments, with non-biological ones such as titanium, stainless steel and polyethylene. Abaqus FEA is fundamental in this game because it enables us to estimate rapidly and precisely the effects of different parameters in the design or performance…whether it is bone or metal or something more complicated like the viscoelasticity of soft tissues or polyethylene.”
This focused research and use of realistic simulation is certainly good news for people like my sister, my dad…and maybe even me! The report from my sister today (four months after surgery) is that she can walk through the mall to do her holiday shopping without the disabling knee pain, that is good news!
Check out the complete Smith & Nephew case study and many other customer stories on Realistic Human Simulation in the latest issue of SIMULIA INSIGHTS magazine.
Please join me in raising a toast to better knee implants and pain free holiday shopping!