Monday, September 29, 2014

Catching or Crashing on the Wave of New Sports Medicine Technology

There are a number of new technologies in the sports medicine space that promise to get you back in the game more quickly. How do you as the patient know what to believe? One important question is “Does the technology provide long term relief”." If the patient has shown noticeable improvement immediately after prescribed treatment but returns to symptoms after activity, they will be left unsatisfied with the treatment. David Armstrong, DPM, MD (University of Arizona) adds that it is difficult to cut through the noise around many technologies. It is expensive to run good quality studies and smaller companies rely on 510k status to cover like technologies. On the other hand, he believes some potential good technologies never see the light of day. The other question to ask is how the natural progression of the acute or chronic injury compares with the improvement noted after intervention. One example is heel pain. Studies have stated that there may be as high as 90% conservative improvement with heel pain. Specialists obviously will get the recalcitrant cases. The argument can be made that continuing a trajectory of failed treatments will cost more money than an intervention that will cure the problem earlier. For example, there are about 1 million patient visits for plantar fasciitis alone in the United States with an estimated cost of $192 million to $376 million dollars. The average time for resolution for plantar fasciitis is about 18 months. Look for part 2 on this topic Thursday.

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