By April Lichtman, 11th Grade Student at Joel Barlow High School
My grandmother, mother and sister are the strongest women in my life. I have seen all three of them undergo different forms of knee surgery, which put them in states of emotional distress and physical pain. My mother got a tibial osteotomy, a procedure where a piece of bone is removed to realign the bones because there is little cartilage between the femur and the tibia. My sister, a once victorious athlete, tore her ACL and cartilage. She had to get a ACL and MCL reconstruction during her freshman year. My grandmother eventually had trouble doing everyday tasks and had to get traditional knee replacement surgery because of constant pain and worn down cartilage. I have seen these women experience physical and emotional trauma following each procedure. Many hope for a future where these procedures have been modified to have simpler recovery processes, so that women similar to those in my family, won’t have to suffer after surgery. According to recent studies, scientists have concluded that if one removes chondrocytes from the nose cartilage and grows them into bone grafts, then the patient could possibly have more mobility in the long run. This new method is the superior to other techniques and will ensure that patients have a prosperous future.
My family members have shown me how to cope with postoperative pain. However, this problem needs to be addressed because it is affecting more and more women, old and young. According to a study courtesy of the National Hospital Discharge Survey from 2000-2010, “on average, the rate of total knee replacement was 50% higher in women than men for each year from 2000 through 2010” (MedScape.com, 2011). These women have difficulty doing everyday tasks, there is a need to innovate this procedure so that women have less scarring and painless recovery process.
In this new method, chondrocytes are taken from the nose cartilage and grown into bone grafts in attempts to repair joints. The study to test this new technology was led by Dr. Ivan Martin of the Department of Biomedicine and Surgery at the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland. The data reported significant improvement, most of the patients that were tested were able to complete everyday tasks that they had difficulty completing before surgery. This procedure increased their mobility in everyday life. According to a recent article on CNN, “between 2004 and 2011, nearly two million Americans had to get knee surgery because of their cartilage” (Scutti, CNN.com, 2016). The number of people who need knee surgery is only getting larger and many other people could benefit from this.
The technology could be valuable because of the trauma of knee replacement surgery, which can be detrimental to some. Hopefully, the fear can be minimized with this new procedure. According to an article on WebMD.com, patients who are recovering from knee replacement surgery typically remain “in the hospital from 3-5 days after surgery” (Zelman, WebMD.com, 2016). In addition to a few days in the hospital, most patients attend a rehabilitation center to learn how to move after surgery. This can appear lengthy to some and some may feel like the recovery process is excessive. With more research and tests, the nose cartilage method could have a reduced recovery time and beat out the traditional method of knee replacement surgery.
Many people attempt to avoid knee surgery by losing weight and converting everyday operations into simple tasks. Some modify exercises and sit out of certain activities. According to an article on CBSnews.com, “the number of knee replacements has climbed from under 500,000 in 2005, to 621,000 in 2009” (CBSnews.com, 2011). It appears that the cartilage wear is almost inevitable and unavoidable. This must be treated with surgery and the nose cartilage graft method can be modified to reduce recovery time and emotional trauma. Although the recovery time is currently lengthy and there are two operations involved, this method can be adapted to be less painful and beneficial in the long run for all women. Scientists owe it to the women who are in constant pain and sit out on certain activities; scientists owe them a painless recovery process with this innovative technique.
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This blog post was an entry into Young Women Rising’s annual essay contest in which 11th grade students were asked, “What is one of the most important issues facing young women today and how do you see yourself having an impact on that issue?”