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A Step Ahead: ‘Smart Knee’ Implanted at Decatur Memorial Hospital


In one of the first procedures of its kind in the state, an orthopedic surgeon at Decatur Memorial Hospital (DMH) has implanted Bluetooth-enabled sensor technology in a patient’s knee that sends data to the patient’s care team to aid in recovery after surgery.

“It’s the future of total knee replacements. I’m proud that, with DMH’s partnership and commitment to excellence, I was able to implant the first smart knee in Illinois,” said Decatur Orthopedic Center’s Dr. Jacob Sams, who implanted the smart knee technology in a patient during a knee replacement surgery in late May.

“The smart knee implant allows unprecedented connection between surgeon and patient,” he said. “It’s an exciting time for both surgeons and patients.”

Think of it as a Fitbit for your knee.

The smart knee implant, developed by Indiana-based Zimmer Biomet, measures range of motion in the knee, step count, walking speed and other gait metrics. Information is wirelessly delivered to a HIPAA-compliant cloud-based platform, which can be accessed by the patient and the surgeon. The data is used to help with follow-up care after knee replacement procedures.

“I’m able to monitor the patient’s recovery and get data on meaningful rehabilitation measures that show how the patient is doing,” said Sams. “In some patients, they are doing too much, and the data will show that. In other patients, the smart knee will let us know who needs to intensify their recovery protocols.”

The technology behind the knee implant is also used in Bluetooth-enabled pacemakers, hip replacements and spinal stimulators, as well as within devices that allow continuous glucose monitoring for patient with diabetes.

“Many of the devices we use in our daily lives are ‘smart,’ said Sams. “I see the future of smart knee implants telling us performance data as well as early alerts if there is infection or loosening [of the implant].”

About 420 knee procedures are performed each year at Decatur Memorial Hospital.

“We are thrilled to work with surgeons such as Dr. Sams to bring cutting-edge technology to our orthopedic patients at Decatur Memorial Hospital,” said Drew Early, president and CEO of Decatur Memorial Hospital.