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OREF-funded studies conducted by Kevin J. Bozic, MD, MBA, led to legislation that refined coding changes and increased reimbursement for total joint revisions.


Published 12/1/2010
Sharon Johnson

More treatment options and better outcomes

OREF-funded researchers continue to deliver

Fifty-five years ago, representatives of the AAOS, the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA), and the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) met to form the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF). Their vision and initiative have paid multiple dividends to orthopaedic surgeons and patients in the form of increased treatment options and better outcomes.

Today, thanks to the continued support and generous giving by farsighted individuals—primarily AAOS members—and industry partners, ongoing research and investigations promise to deliver even more benefits in the future.

Improved treatment protocols
Over the years, researchers supported by OREF have developed many effective diagnostic and treatment methods that orthopaedic surgeons now rely on in daily practice, including the following:

  • Replacement of damaged knee cartilage with cadaver cartilage, which may reduce pain and increase mobility (Steven P. Arnoczky, DVM)
  • Anterior decompression and intraoperative spinal cord monitoring, making it possible for patients to recover all or some function after spinal cord injury (Henry H. Bohlman, MD)
  • Electrobiological therapies that provide alternative treatments for osteoarthritis patients and patients whose fractures won’t heal (Carl T. Brighton, MD, PhD)
  • Exercise programs that prevent osteoporotic fractures (David B. Burr, MD)
  • Reconstructive techniques using patellar tendon grafts to treat anterior and posterior cruciate ligament injuries and enabling patients to return to an active lifestyle (William G. Clancy Jr., MD)
  • A method to determine the effectiveness of techniques involving cells to influence cartilage healing, ensuring patients receive the best possible treatment for cartilage injuries (David R. Diduch, MD)
  • Specific therapies to care for and lessen the pain of arthritis (Victor M. Goldberg, MD)
  • Intervention strategies for dealing with elderly hip fracture patients, and education and research program recommendations to reduce these fractures in the future (Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD)

Promising solutions
Other researchers supported by OREF grants are pursuing a range of promising solutions for many of today’s most pressing clinical challenges. For example, Joyce A. DeLeo, PhD, is developing drugs to treat low back pain associated with nerve root injury, and Stavros Thomopoulos, PhD, is researching growth factor-based therapies that have the potential to enhance tendon-to-bone healing after rotator cuff repair.

Additional examples of these promising solutions include the following:

  • Smart Implants® that will reduce the risk of periprosthetic infection and improve longevity of artificial joints (Javad Parvizi, MD)
  • Identification of the optimal treatment for common wrist pain, allowing patients to make informed treatment decisions based on effectiveness and risk (David S. Ruch, MD)
  • Bone graft substitutes that could be used for spinal fusion, management of delayed unions or nonunions, and treatment of primary fractures (Francis H. Shen, MD)
  • Standards that could be implemented worldwide to improve the quality and safety of care for joint replacement patients (Nelson F. SooHoo, MD)
  • Evaluation of postoperative clubfoot patients to find ways to optimize results (John G. Thometz, MD)

Support for your specialty and your colleagues
OREF fundraising efforts throughout the year include designated giving appeals on behalf of 41 different orthopaedic organizations: AAOS, all 22 member organizations of the Board of Specialty Society (BOS), plus 18 additional national and international groups, from the AOA to the Western Orthopaedic Association. Since 1994, OREF has raised more than $28 million expressly to support partner-developed and partner-directed education and research projects.

“OREF was deluged with individual research grant applications in 2010,” said James D. Heckman, MD, OREF trustee and vice chair, research grants. “We received requests for $16.2 million in funding, an 89 percent increase over last year. We are looking for more support from both orthopaedic surgeons and industry, so we can encourage these bright young investigators and continue to advance our specialty.”

“Our corporate partners have been more generous year after year,” said Thomas P. Schmalzried, MD, OREF trustee and vice chair, corporate relations. “Still, we have yet to find a way to balance the rising cost of educating and training orthopaedic surgeons with recent shifts in fellowship and other educational funding. We are working to enlighten companies that do not yet fully appreciate the critical need for funding and the impact they can make as good corporate citizens.”

“So far this year, OREF has received $13.6 million in requests for institutional grants to support fellowships, residency enhancement programs, and continued medical education. Unfortunately, the need is likely to outnumber available funds by a 2-to-1 margin,” said Frank B. Kelly Jr., MD, OREF trustee and vice chair, educational grants. “That’s why it’s so important for our surgeon colleagues to give generously and for our corporate partners to invest fully in the next generation of orthopaedic surgeons.”

Sharon Johnson is VP Communications for OREF. She can be reached at johnson@oref.org