National Inventors Day: A Brief History of Orthopaedic Technology

At Resurgens Orthopaedics, we strive every day to stay abreast of the latest advancements in medical technology so we can help our patients heal more quickly and more thoroughly.  While our staff works tirelessly to perfect their skills, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without all the inventors out there who spend their days developing the new technologies we use in our facilities.  In honor of February 11th as National Inventors Day, we’d like to tell you a bit about the history of orthopaedic technology and show you one new innovation that could prove to be the future of knee replacement surgery.

History of Orthopaedics

Although the word “orthopaedics” only entered the English vocabulary in 1741, some historians believe the practices and devices associated with orthopaedics could date back to ancient Egypt or even earlier.  Back then, ancient inventors came up with the idea of using splints and other devices to stabilize broken bones as they healed.  Those techniques were so successful that they are still used today in the treatment of injuries.

The first modern orthopaedic devices were developed by a French Professor of Medicine named Nicolas Andry, who focused his efforts on treating musculoskeletal deformities in children.  While Andry developed the idea of using splints and other devices to correct these disorders, it would be another 40 years before Swiss doctor Jean-Andre Venel first used a specialized shoe to treat club foot in children.  In addition, Venel also came up with several methods of treating spinal curvature using braces and splints.

By the late 1800s, the use of plaster casts to treat broken bones was already becoming commonplace and doctors all around the world were using the concepts developed in orthopaedic treatment of childhood musculoskeletal disorders to treat injuries and diseases in adults.  It was during this time that doctors began incorporating surgical techniques into orthopaedics and the onset of World War I led to rapid advancements in the field including the use of rods, screws, and metal plates to treat bone injuries.  Throughout the 20th century, orthopaedic doctors used the knowledge gained during the war to develop bone and joint replacement surgeries to benefit patients off the battlefield.

Orthopaedic Surgery in the 21st Century

Today, innovators in the field of orthopaedics focus on developing techniques that allow surgeons and physicians to treat musculoskeletal disorders in a way that’s less invasive and allows patients to heal more quickly.  At Resurgens Orthopaedics, we utilize the latest in arthroscopic and minimally invasive surgical techniques to ensure our patients can recover quickly and get back to doing the things they enjoy.  In this regard, we depend heavily on the inventors and innovators who develop these techniques and technologies that give us the opportunity to heal our patients faster and with fewer complications than at any other time in history. 

The field of orthopaedics continues to advance rapidly; we’re even incorporating 3D printing technology to create orthopaedic implants based on the patients’ own anatomy.  This technology is known as the Conformis implant and Dr. Jefferey Peretz at Resurgens Orthopaedics is one of only 16 surgeons in the metro-Atlanta area currently using it.  As orthopaedics technology continues to improve, we’ll remain at the forefront of these advancements.  No matter what amazing innovations the future holds for orthopaedic medicine, one thing is for sure: we couldn’t do what we do without the ingenious inventors whose ideas made those innovations possible.