I'm a huge fan of the Olympics. Even though I pay very little attention to sports the rest of the time, during the Olympics I suddenly become very patriotic and care about even the most obscure sports (apparently fencing is an Olympic sport). Although not everyone is as excited as I am (my roommate included), I think most people agree that the Olympics are a fun way to bring the world together for a few days.
As we count down the hours to the opening ceremonies, I was trying to think of an excuse to write an Olympic-related post that tied in medical devices somehow. And I figured it out! The extreme exertion that Olympic athletes place on their bodies is not without risks. Tennis players and baseball pitchers commonly injure their rotator cuffs and elbows, while sports that involve running and changing direction rapidly such as soccer (or football, as the Brits call it) and basketball can do serious damage to your knees. As a result, a variety of treatments exist to address these injuries, which often involve you guessed it medical devices.
Sports injuries are a major driver for markets such as orthopedic soft tissue solutions, arthroscopic devices, trauma devices, and orthopedic braces. For example, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are common sports-related knee injuries that are often treated by reconstructing the ligament, generally using an autograft and a variety of soft tissue fixation devices such as interference screws, cortical anchors, cross pins, screws, and washers. This procedure is often performed arthroscopically and more than 520,000 of these procedures were performed in 2011 in the US and Europe. Something that has always struck me as somewhat interesting about ACL tears is that women are apparently up to five times more likely to suffer ACL damage, for reasons unknown. As long as people continue to play sports, there will continue to be demand for the various grafts and fixation devices used to treat sports-related injuries.
But here's hoping that that the London 2012 Summer Olympics are fun and injury free! Good luck to the athletes of the world and Go Team Canada!