Robots Can Now Perform Automated Orthopedic Treatments thanks to Israeli Scientists

Let me hear tidings of joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed exult. Psalms 51:10 (The Israel Bible™)

Following orthopedic surgery to lengthen bones, set complex fractures or correct deformities, children and adults often have to perform external fixation – turning metal screws a bit every day for months – like struts on a guitar. This gradual, painful process has had to be performed manually and exactly, and it can go on for months. If not carried out exactly, this fixation can even cause harm. 

But now an Israeli company named OrthoSpin, working in cooperation with doctors from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, has developed a unique, smart robotic external fixation system to allow real-time physician follow-up and to reduce dependency on patient compliance.

Comprised of a strut powered by a lightweight motor and a control box placed on top of the circular, hexapod fixation frame, OrthoSpin’s system automatically and continuously adjusts and lengthens the struts according to the prescribed treatment regimen without the patient have without patient involvement. With OrthoSpin’s new system, orthopedists are assured that the prescribed course of treatment is being followed. 

The company, located in Misgav in the Galilee, received regulatory clearance from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its smart, robotic external fixation system for orthopedic treatments.

OrthoSpin was founded in December 2014 and operates in the framework of the Incubator Incentive Program of the Israel Innovation Authority. 

“This is a medical breakthrough for treatment that has so far been cumbersome. The system will change the world of external fixators and improve our quality of care and our ability as physicians to better cope with clinical challenges,” said Dr. Eitan Segev, a medical consultant to the engineering team.

Segev and Dr. Roi Gigi of the pediatric orthopedic department of the Dana-Duek Children’s Hospital at Sourasky, who worked with the company, said that under conventional treatment, the doctor connects outer rings to both sides of the bone and moves them closer. Extension cords are shortened by a family member or caregiver according to a premeditated plan four times a day, for three months by a caregiver or family member. This effort is intense, laborious and vulnerable to mistakes; in rare cases, a repeat orthopedic operation has been necessary. 

But the new OrthoSpin robotic apparatus eliminates the need to touch or move the external fixture (which is sometimes painful or unpleasant, especially after surgery) and greatly facilitates the patient and his family,” added Segev.. 

According to OrthoSpin CEO  Oren Cohen, “This was an exciting process for us. Beyond the very challenging and compelling professional challenge, we were delighted to help our families closely monitor us and see how the system improves their daily routine and quality of life during this simple treatment.” The system is currently undergoing further trials in Israel and the US, and doctors and patients who are involved say they are very pleased with it. 

The patient moves with the system, bathes at the end of the day and goes to bed with it at night, said Segev. “The system works perfectly, and I believe this development will change the world of external fixators as it has been known so far,and will improve the quality of care and our ability as physicians to better cope with the clinical challenges..” 

The computerized system is able to collect biomechanical parameters, and in the future will enable the device to send real-time updates to physicians to monitor patient progress. “This will allow for adjusting the treatment plan if needed, including a personalized treatment plan for each patient, stressed Gigi.