‘Shock absorber’ implant boosts mobility in people with arthritis


A special implant that is surgically fitted into patients’ knees has been found to increase mobility in people with arthritis and is now being trialled by NHS hospitals.

The device acts as a shock absorber and is designed to grant people suffering with arthritis better mobility without requiring major surgery to replace the joint.

Currently in the development phase, the device – called Atlas – is being used by a handful of NHS hospitals in Harrogate, Aintree, Rotherham, Warrington and Glasgow.

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The implant works by acting like a car suspension and claims to remove the equivalent of two stones of pressure of strained knees.

Private treatment costs about £13,500 and its developers hope it will be used on younger, highly active, sporty people who place a lot of strain on their knees.

Around 60,000 people have their knees replaced in the UK each year but artificial joints often need to be replaced in active people every 10 years.

The Atlas device is attached to the femur with surgical screws and then another metal plate is attached to the tibia. A spring between the two metal plates made from compressible resin absorbs impact.  

Mike McNicholas, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Aintree University Hospital, told a national newspaper that one of the patients to receive the implant has since completed a number of Ironman triathlons.

Image: Stock image.

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Joe Peskett

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