No Bones About it―Simulation is the Future of Orthopedics

Have you ever broken a bone or needed orthopedic surgery? With over 206 bones in the human body and a world filled with adventure, there is a high likelihood that you will answer yes to this question at some point.

Personally, I made it through my playful childhood, my wild college days, and my roaring 20’s before breaking a bone. It finally happened in 2013 during a friendly football game—I took a hard fall and broke the hamate bone in my left hand. Though not as painful as I would have imagined, it was certainly strange to see that one of my knuckles had all but disappeared into my hand.

Upon visiting my doctor, I was told that orthopedic surgery would be necessary to mend the bone properly and restore full strength to the hand. During a quick outpatient procedure, the surgeon opened up my hand and installed a titanium plate with six screws. My friends often joke that that I am more machine than man now, but three years later my hand performs like normal with only a scar to remind me of the accident. This truly is a testament to the great progress we have made in orthopedics, surgical procedures and medical devices. However, there is always room for improvement!

How can realistic simulation enable doctors to deliver medical solutions that are not only safe and reliable, but also customized for the patient?

The automotive, aerospace, energy and hi-tech industries have come to rely on advanced simulation technology to test their products before they are built, all while unlocking design improvements and innovations. Similarly, medical devices are already being designed and safely tested in the virtual world before ever being deployed in the real world.

Though the procedure on my hand went well, I recall the cast being hot and uncomfortable―especially when I had an itch! With the use of realistic simulation for customized patient care this may no longer be an issue in the near future. Rob Stupplebeen from Optimal Device used realistic simulation to virtually optimize the design of a cast for a broken wrist. To learn more, watch this video and discover a world where doctors can 3D print a patient specific cast that is strong, yet lightweight and airy.

Watch Rob Stupplebeen of Optimal Device Discuss Simulation for Medical Cast Design

Realistic simulation is also providing doctors the insight to design surgical solutions for specific patients like never before thought possible. Consider the knee: a complex joint responsible for getting us from point A to point B with the synchronized movement of bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons in that region. For those who suffer from extreme or chronic knee pain, surgery is sometimes the best option to regain mobility.

According to the Rush University Medical Center, joint replacement surgery has improved monumentally over the past few decades. Today there are up to 200 implant size variations, compared to just three or four sizes 30 years ago. It is no wonder knee surgery was considered a last resort in the 1980’s.

With realistic simulation knee surgery is becoming more intuitive by allowing doctors to virtually analyze individual patient conditions, thus delivering more customized, safe and reliable medical solutions.

Want to learn more?

Discover how realistic simulation is accelerating the design of knee implants.

Visit the Abaqus Knee Simulator (AKS) website

3 Responses to “No Bones About it―Simulation is the Future of Orthopedics”


    Rob Stupplebeen

    Great article Matt. If anyone wants more information on the 3D cast topology optimization my blog and presentation are here:



    Great post about Orthopedics.


    Meddco Healthcare

    Your article on plastic Surgery is very informative. Follow Meddco Healthcare for search and compare plastic surgery treatment prices at your location.

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