Did you know that each year knee osteoarthritis causes around 195.000 knees replacements in Germany? Surprisingly, around 30% of the patients are younger than 65 years. As these patients are relatively young, they have a higher chance of a second more complex Total Knee Replacement (TKR) later in life. In general, the quality of life decreases after a TKR due to lower function compared to a natural knee.
ArthroSave developed the Knee Reviver in collaboration with orthopaedic surgeons, researchers and patients. It is the only device with intended use for knee joint distraction. The device unloads the damaged knee joint and can delay the first TKR and therefore possibly eliminate a second TKR. The KneeReviver consists of 2 tubes placed on both sides of the knee, it is fixated to the bone by eight bone pins and it unloads the knee joint by creating space between the joint surfaces. It is allowed to bear weight during treatment, however it is not possible to bend the knee. After 6 weeks, the KneeReviver can be removed and the patient will enter the rehabilitation phase.
How does ArthroSave impact patients’ health/healthcare
Clinical studies have shown that by using the KneeReviver, it significantly reduces pain, improves function, and it might regenerate the knee joint tissue. Furthermore, a clear need for disease-modifying solutions to improve the treatment of knee osteoarthritis was expressed by different health professionals. As mentioned before, the KneeReviver could postpone the first Total Knee Replacement. This is one of the reasons this device was developed.
What is the story behind ArthroSave?
Jan Carel: “The phenomena ‘distraction’ has been around longer than today. The body regenerates bones and tissue but cartilage was long thought of as impossible to grow back. The orthopedic physicians at Utrecht Medical Center indicated that there are young patients whose knee could be preserved longer, for which a total knee replacement would be postponed. The clinical need/wish came from the medical field itself. Based on this and clinical evidence, we developed the KneeReviver”.
Any success stories that you are most proud of?
‘Yes, many. There is one story that will always stick with me and I often use it as an example. I had an interview with a woman who had a treatment with the KneeReviver around 2 years ago. She said: “Six weeks was not so nice, but it was worth it. I would do it again if I had to”, After two years, she was still able to do everything. She walked and biked around without any trouble. I think that this example was quite remarkable. Another story is from one of our first patients who had the same surgery many years ago. This patient had been suffering from his knee for years. Thanks to the Knee Reviver, his TKR was eventually postponed by 16 years, and he was able to work in a wine yard all those years without any severe problems.
In general, we have quite a success story on a larger level. When we first started, the waiting lists were very long, the demand was high, and sometimes we had to turn people down. Currently, we are working hard every day to give more people the opportunity to be treated with the KneeReviver.
What is the most valuable tip about innovating healthcare that every entrepreneur could learn from?
‘Often entrepreneurs focus a lot on the technical side of the product and they forget the person who is supposed to use it. In our case, they are orthopedic surgeons. We had to understand their way of working and behavior. They will break out of their comfort zone when they start using this product or any product for that matter. So, my main tip: pay attention to the workflow of the end-user and try to understand them.’