- Intra-Operative and Implantable Transducers
Far more data than we have now is needed to fully understand the characteristics of human biomechanics. Implantable transducers can measure data such as joint contact pressure and ligament tension, which is essential for the development of implants and repair procedures. Novel intra-operative transducers will be fundamental to the development of new orthopaedic surgical methods and surgical aid systems. These will provide invaluable information to surgeons during surgical procedures.
- Surgical Aid Systems
Robotic assistance and computer guidance can increase the accuracy and reliability of some orthopaedic procedures like joint reconstruction/replacement, which can increase the longevity of joint implants. Thus far, these technologies have not been employed extensively in orthopaedic procedures, especially in the upper limb. However, computer guidance can provide surgeons with unobstructed visualization augmented with important real-time information. This, and the precision obtained by robotic manipulators, can improve some surgical outcomes and reduce the incidence of revision surgeries.
- Virtual Surgery Simulators
Surgeon training is undoubtedly an important factor in surgical outcomes. Surgical simulators for orthopaedic procedures are still quite rudimentary and provide unrealistic haptic feedback (or “feel”) of important maneuvers like cutting bone and ligaments. Providing surgeons-in-training with more realistic simulations is an important step in improving surgical outcomes of orthopaedic procedures.
- Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)
Relatively few advancements have been made in MIS for orthopaedics. Procedures like joint replacements and fracture repair routinely require large incisions and displacement of large amounts of muscle and other tissues. A reduction in the disruption to these tissues would reduce the risk of complications such as nerve damage, and result in less scarring and morbidity. This leads to faster healing times and less post-surgical rehabilitation.
Ultimately, these efforts are aimed at improving patient healthcare and reducing the healthcare burden on our society. Patients having undergone orthopaedic procedures will benefit from improved functional outcomes and a quicker return to their lifestyle. Shorter hospital stays and less post-operative rehabilitation will also translate into fewer lost hours in the workplace, reducing healthcare costs to our economy.
My Research Group
Dr. Louis Ferreira is co-director of the Bioengineering Laboratory and the Surgical Mechatronics Laboratory. Both are member labs of the Hand and Upper Limb Centre (HULC), which is a patient clinic located at St. Joseph's Health Care (SJHC) in London Ontario. The labs are located in the Lawson Health Research Institute (LHRI), which is also on the SJHC campus.
Research is conducted in collaboration with from surgeons of the HULC clinic and Faculty from Western University. Graduate and undergraduate students from Western University conduct their research in the labs, often with collaboration from surgical trainees from the HULC Residency Program.
The research work is performed with a "bench to bedside" philosophy, in order to increase the knowledgebase of human biomechanics and treatments, and to improve patient healthcare.