Published 6/1/2007
Nicholas DiNubile, MD

From falls to falling asleep, orthopaedic surgeons reach out through media

The AAOS and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association collaborated on a fall prevention campaign for our growing older population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 1.9 million people older than age 65 were treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained from falls in 2004. A more alarming statistic is that falls are the leading cause of deaths from injury among older Americans.

Jay D. Mabrey, MD, of Dallas, served as the Academy’s spokesperson. He explained why older people are at greater risk for serious injuries and offered practical suggestions for preventing them. Suggestions included exercise and modifications to the home to reduce slips and falls.

When the Associated Press (AP) wire service reported on the campaign, the story was picked up by hundreds of daily and weekly newspapers across the country, including The Orlando Sentinel, Rocky Mountain News (Denver), Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.), The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Kansas City Star, The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.), and The Tampa Tribune. It also received widespread radio and on-line coverage.

Sleeping and back pain
The Health Magazine feature story, “3 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep,” noted that old mattresses and pillows can contribute to back pain. The piece included interviews with several experts including Scott D. Boden, MD, director of the Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center in Atlanta, and Jeffrey Goldstein, MD, an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and a spinal surgery specialist at New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases.

Although mattresses can cost $1,000 or more, if they make you feel younger, aren’t they worth it? And what about the costs of other ways to make you feel younger? From digital hearing aids ($3,000 per ear) to hip replacements ($20,000 to $40,000 per hip), a recent Money Magazine article covered almost every body part. It also gave a nice plug to the Academy’s patient education Web site, Your Orthopaedic Connection (www.orthoinfo.org), referring consumers there “to bone up on your bones and joints.”

Hip arthroscopy
The New York Times story, “Getting the Clearest Look at a Hurting Hip,” discussed the use of arthroscopy as a diagnostic tool. The story featured Raymond R. Monto, MD, who was unable to get enough detail from a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to determine the exact nature of his patient’s problem. Monto used arthroscopy to make the diagnosis. In this case, he was able to remove a lesion at the same time—saving the patient from having open hip surgery.

Although European surgeons have used arthroscopy as a diagnostic tool for decades, the procedure is still controversial in the United States. Joseph M. Lane, MD, professor of orthopaedic surgery at Weill Medical College of Cornell University of New York, was also interviewed. In his view, a high-quality MRI scan combined with good X-rays should be sufficient for a surgeon to make a diagnosis. Others in the story pointed out that newer MRI technology with more powerful magnets is providing sharper images. The debate is sure to continue.

Knee replacements
A feature story in the Baltimore Sun focused on knee replacements and “baby boomers,” and included information on gender-specific knee implants and the recent trend to perform knee replacements on younger patients in their 50s and 60s. The piece cited a 2006 statistic that predicts a 673 percent increase in knee replacements in the next 23 years.

Kamala Littleton, MD, director of the Orthopedic Program for Women at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, and Kimberly Templeton, MD, associate professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center and chief of orthopedic surgery at the Kansas City VA Medical Center, were interviewed for this story.

The article was reprinted in several daily newspapers, including Long Island’s Newsday, the Dallas Morning News, and the Houston Chronicle.

Gender-specific knee replacements were also covered by the Houston Chronicle, in a report that highlighted the new products and quoted Vonda Wright, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, as well as Sherwin Siff, MD, of the Bone and Joint Clinic of Houston.

Making news
Other AAOS fellows in the news include Mitchell B. Sheinkop, MD, who was featured in the Chicago Sun Times in an article on hip resurfacing; David Ring, MD, whose study on carpal tunnel syndrome presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting, was featured on About: Arthritis, an Internet blog; Communications Cabinet Chair Frank B. Kelly, MD, who did an interview for The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.) on golf injuries; and Johnny C. Benjamin, MD, chief of orthopaedic surgery at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach, Fla., who also contributed to the golf injuries article.

In Islamabad, Pakistan, the Pak Tribune story on “Preventing Knee Pain” used information from the AAOS and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine to offer suggestions on how to avoid injuries when running.

Parade magazine’s Michael O’Shea included me in a piece on “Stay Motivated to Get Fit.” I am proud to be part of Parade magazine’s “All-America Get Fit” panel. If you want to be part of the AAOS team willing to serve as spokespersons, contact the public relations department at julitz@aaos.org

Nicholas DiNubile, MD, is chair of the Public Relations Oversight Group.