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'Smart-Knee' Implant Changes the Orthopedic Game

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Smart Knee technology graphic

How does Lee Health Orthopedics remain at the forefront of medical innovation? By continuously adopting new, proven, and safe technologies that benefit patients when compared to what used to be done.

That’s the “smart” answer—pun intended—because in November, orthopedic surgeon John Thompson, M.D., and his team successfully performed the first “smart knee” implant for total knee replacement in Southwest Florida.

“It’s a game-changer,” Dr. Thompson says about the Persona IQ, an implantable sensor technology. “The device captures and transmits data on our patient’s progress after knee replacement surgery. This allows us to remotely monitor their post-surgery recovery using real-time data. Until now, we haven’t been able to capture data from inside the body before in knee replacement procedures.”

Read on to learn more as Dr. Thompson answers our questions about the smart technology innovation restoring the quality of life for patients who qualify.

Q: In a nutshell, what is the Persona IQ smart knee?

A: It’s an FDA-approved knee replacement device that contains a small Bluetooth-enabled sensor integrated into the joint replacement prosthesis. The sensor measures and records the range of motion, step count, walking speed, stride length, and other gait biometric details. Per the device’s privacy safeguards, it doesn’t collect data on a patient’s location, though. There’s no chance the knee can be hacked, either, because the data is all outgoing.

The sensor uses the same material and technology found in implanted cardiac devices such as a pacemaker, so it’s proven as a biocompatible-constructed device.

Q: What does the device do with the data? 

A: The smart sensor collects data several times a day and wirelessly transmits it to a personal base station, which is about the size of a modem, plugged into an outlet in the patient’s home. Then, the data is securely delivered to a HIPAA-compliant cloud-based platform, where the orthopedic team can access objective, real-time data to see how patients are progressing and recovering post-surgically. It takes the guesswork out of monitoring how the new joint is working.

Patients can also access the data using a smartphone app called the mymobility app. This way, they can get real-time information that can help them better understand their pre- and post-surgical progress. For many patients, technology really gets them involved with goal-setting, progress, and recovery.

Q: How does the device benefit you and your team?

A: It allows us to monitor patient progress in ways that were previously not possible, including measuring key recovery metrics, as mentioned. A key benefit is that the technology will alert us if the device isn’t working properly due to infection, component issues, or device failure.

That aside, recovery for any patient after knee replacement requires really hard work from them. We want to avoid any deviations in recovery that can set them back or on a less optimal path. The sooner we’re able to identify a patient who may not be progressing as well as we would like, the sooner we can intervene to make any necessary adjustments to get them back on their way. For example, maybe a patient’s physical therapy plan needs to be tweaked, or they need more patient education or medication to fight inflammation. The Personal IQ smart knee gives the orthopedic team a detailed understanding of our patient’s recovery. It keeps us on the cutting edge of patient-focused care.

Q: What about patient compliance with the device? Do they have to physically do anything to make sure the device is working each day?

A: The data is collected passively, meaning the patient doesn’t have to do anything to ensure the information is collected and received. They don’t even have to worry about charging the device. It runs on an FDA-certified battery made to last 10 years.

"The more information we can gather after surgery, the better we can manage each individual patient in a more personalized approach during the pos-operative period, which should lead to improved outcomes," Dr. Thompson says.