Top 10 Sports Medicine Technologies in 2017


The ten winning companies with the BEST new sports medicine technologies for 2017 are: Arthrex, Inc., Bioelectronics Corporation, Breg, Inc., Freeze Sleeve, LLC, MuscleSound, LLC, NCS Lab SRL, OrthoNOW, Smith & Nephew and Suture Innovations LLC.

Rewarding Innovation and Perspiration

This annual award rewards inventors, engineering teams, physicians and their companies who’ve created the most innovative, enduring and practical products in 2016 to treat injured athletes in ANY activity—whether sports, industry, military or healthcare. To win the Orthopedics This Week Best New Technology Award for sports medicine care, a new technology must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be creative and innovative.
  2. Have long term significance to the problem of treating the injured athlete. Does this technology have staying power?
  3. Solve a clinical problem. To what extent does this technology solve a current clinical problem or problem that is inadequately solved today?
  4. Does it have the potential to improve standard of care?
  5. Is it cost effective?
  6. I would use it

Our panel of physicians score every submission on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the highest score) for each of the above criteria.

We and our panel of surgeons were impressed that inventors—despite ever growing hurdles to innovation and entrepreneurism in medicine—still managed to create a solid group of nearly 30 new products to submit for the 2017 Orthopedics This Week Sports Medicine Technology Awards.


We offer our thanks and deep appreciation to the engineering teams, surgeon inventors and the following companies for submitting their best ideas this year.

Active Implants LLC Aperion Biologics, Inc. Arthrex, Inc. Arthrogenx
BioElectronics Corporation BioLum Sciences Breg, Inc. CollPlant LTD
Freeze Sleeve, LLC Moirai Orthopaedics, LLC NCS LAB SRL OrthoNOW
Recovery Force, LLC Smith & Nephew SterileBits Suture Innovations LLC

Here, then, are the ten best new sports medicine technologies for 2017 arranged by company in alphabetical order:

Arthrex, Inc.

Winning Technology: InternalBrace™ –  Ligament Augmentation System

Inventor: Gordon Mackay, M.D.

Engineer: Karen Gallen

Gordon Mackay, M.D. and InternalBrace™ – Ligament Augmentation System

Arthrex’s new InternalBrace™ augments the repair of the native ATFL ligament. When an athlete tears a ligament, for example after an ankle sprain, the risk is that these ligaments heal in a lengthened condition. Of course, excessively long or loose ligaments can lead to recurrent instability. Contributing to this risk is early mobilization—which is a principle of ankle sprain treatment. That early mobilization may cause the ligaments propensity to heal in a lengthened manner, possibly increasing the likelihood of recurrent instability.

An InternalBrace™ from Arthrex provides a “check-rein” or “internal seatbelt” to allow the ligaments to heal in a more physiologic manner, at appropriate tension. With InternalBrace early mobilization will support collagen growth and health without also creating the conditions for future instability.

The InternalBrace builds in significant stability, strength and protection to the physician’s Broström repairs.


BioElectronics Corporation 

Winning Technology: ActiPatch (Pulsed Shortwave Therapy)

Inventor: John Martinez

Engineers: John Martinez, Sree Koneru, Ph.D.

John Martinez, Iqra Anwar-Deen, Sree N. Koneru, Ph.D., and ActiPatch

ActiPatch device is a wearable, low-power, pulsed shortwave therapy device for adjunctive treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee and plantar fasciitis. ActiPatch emits a low level, pulsed electromagnetic energy field over the treatment site at a frequency in the 27.1 MHz ISM band and is pulsed-modulated at 1 KHz with a duty cycle of 10%. The battery supplies power for 720 hours.

The high-frequency, low-power nature of the stimulus means that users experience no sensations of any kind. Chronic pain results from the process of sensitization of the underlying nerves, which most often occurs when high levels of acute pain are sustained for an extended time-period. When sustained tissue insult or injury sensitizes the central nervous system even non-painful stimuli can produce painful responses. This process occurs in the spine of the individual, which is considered part of the central nervous system, and so is referred to as “central sensitization.” Central sensitization is associated with a wide variety of pain conditions, including osteoarthritis of the knee pain, neck pain, low back pain, dysmenorrhea, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, migraines and painful bladder, among many others. Providing continuous, new information to peripheral nerves is key to mitigating central sensitization, and this is accomplished by the ActiPatch.


Breg, Inc.

Winning Technology:  Breg Flex

Inventors: Steve Romeo, Geoff Siegel, Robert Haywood

Engineers: Geoff Siegel, Henry Chan, Matt Hollister, Derrick Willer

John Krier, Lauren Ray, and Breg Flex

Breg Flex is a first-of-its-kind remote therapy monitoring device. It is mobile and uses sensor technology to gather objective, real-time data. Incorporated into the system are iOS and Android software engines (one for the clinician and one for the patient). Breg Flex’s sensor tracks activity and range-of-motion within 5 degrees of accuracy for flexion and extension and then communicates that data via Bluetooth.

Using Breg Flex, patients can begin their therapy in the “pre-hab” stage (3-4 weeks prior to their procedure) and continue post intervention until the patient reaches an optimal functional performance level.

From the clinician’s perspective, Breg Flex allows them to input the patient’s therapy instructions into the Breg Flex app. Real time, objective data results are sent real-time back to the clinician app where the clinician can monitor patient overall activity (sets/reps), range-of-motion (ROM—flexion and extension), pain and the Breg Flex score real time.

The Breg Flex score combines the exercises and ROM into a patient score. The patient’s goal is to reach 100 points each day.

Breg Flex operates over a secure communication portal where clinicians and patients can send messages, images and videos. It also incorporates a business intelligence dashboard along with EMR connectivity to help customers gather, share and interpret data to improve care.


Freeze Sleeve, LLC

Winning Technology:  Freeze Sleeve

Inventor: Mike Riordan

Champ L. Baker, Jr., M.D., Mike Riordan, Champ L. Baker, III, M.D., Kenneth Zisholz, and Freeze Sleeve

The Freeze Sleeve is a revolutionary cold therapy compression sleeve. The Freeze Sleeve provides 360 degrees of cold therapy and compression coverage to arms or legs. The Freeze Sleeve remains flexible when frozen, slides on easily and stays in place allowing the user to move freely during the recommended 15-20 minutes of cold therapy. The Freeze Sleeve has a soft 4-way stretch spandex outer layer that provides comfortable compression. The inner layer is a leak proof gel that is non-toxic, antibacterial and anti-microbial. The Freeze Sleeve is applied directly to the skin and will not burn so it is safe for use by children and adults.


MuscleSound, LLC

Winning Technology:  MuscleSound

Inventors: Stephen Kurtz, Dr. John Hill, Dr. Inigo San Millan

Jamie Zynger, Cedar Bellows, Lauren Fanelli, Stephen Kurtz, John Ireland, Pierre Sarnow, Marlena Zimmerman, Andy Jackson, and MuscleSound

MUSCLESOUND® is an ultrasound that looks inside the muscles, measures the rate with which the muscle stores, generates and replenishes energy and, therefore, can track rehabilitation following injury in novel and more effective ways.

Using the MuscleSound system, physicians can assess when an athlete or weekend warrior is ready to resume training, stage of recovery from injury, how well the injured muscles are storing and using energy and when are the optimal times to move to the next stage of rehabilitation from injury.



Winning Technology:  TAYLOR STITCHER

Inventor: Ing Matteo Mantovani

Engineers: Matteo Mantovani, Daniele Baetta

John Winslow, Cory Edgar, M.D., Ph.D., Craig Kramer, and the TAYLOR STITCHER

The Taylor Stitcher is a surgical instrument which allows the physician to create transosseous curved tunnels for treating lesions to the shoulder rotator cuff. It works in both an arthroscopic and mini-open surgical technique.

While based on Taylor Stitcher technology, the instrument implements a different targeting frame so that the physician is able to experience an easy orientation in the shoulder together with a proper identification of the lateral entry spot without having to measure it in advance.

The STN, which is a 1.9 mm diameter nitinol needle, is activated and in one single step the physician creates the transosseous tunnel and pass the suture/shuttle. The rounded smooth shape of the tunnel avoids sharp corner formation and reduces the main sources of gap formation. The movable targeting frame permits an easy insertion and provides the possibility of reaching each point of the foot-print area to create optimal fixation. The bone bridge is 18-20 mm.

The Taylor Stitcher offers multiple configurations: multiple parallel tunnels and multiple exits spanning from the same lateral entry hole.

Importantly, the STN needle, thanks to its super-elasticity, is able to recover its original shape and make transosseous curved tunnels.


OrthoNOW Orthopedic Urgent Care

Winning Technology:  OrthoNOW Mobile App

Inventor: Eric Rylander

Engineer: Eric Rylander

Hossein Kasmai, Eric Rylander, Justin Irizarry, Dr. Alejandro Badia, Christine Dura, and the OrthoNOW mobile app

The OrthoNOW mobile app was designed to enhance the patients’ experience with our orthopedic urgent care centers, even before they arrive to our facilities. When it was first launched, the app introduced the On My Way NOW™ feature that allowed patients to notify an OrthoNOW Center that they are in route, the reason they are going, and what time they expect to arrive. Additionally, the app also located the nearest OrthoNOW Center, provided contact interface to the Center, and could connect to Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as supply information about conditions treated and a section of frequently asked questions.

Late last year OrthoNOW updated the mobile app and augmented their list of features. With the new version of the app patients can now:

  1. Send a custom injury alert to the orthopedic experts at a Center with pictures of the injury in advance of their arrival.
  2. Users of the mobile app can create multiple patient profiles—a feature designed to help parents or coaches build a system for rapid decision making and notification at the time of injury— when seconds count.
  3. Finally, and most notably, OrthoNOW’s mobile app is now integrated with the Uber app, allowing patients to request and ride to the nearest Center when other transportation is not available or practical, such as after having sustained an injury to a hand, arm, leg, or foot.


Smith & Nephew

Winning Technology:  Meniscal Root Repair Instrumentation

Inventors: Dr. Robert LaPrade, David Gregoire, Stephen Santangelo, Jeff Wyman, Coen Wijdicks, George White, Dr. David Diduch, Carmel Ilka Bijoux, Jennifer Ng, Dr. Tim Spalding, Dr. Peter Verdonk

Engineers: Stephen Santangelo, Jennifer Ng, David Gregoire, George White

Robert Laprade, M.D., Ph.D., Mason Bettenga, and the Meniscal Root Repair Instrumentation

Only recently have meniscal root tears been identified as a subset of meniscal injuries which can lead to future knee disorders. This set of instruments were designed to arthroscopically treat meniscal root tears by locating the posterior meniscal root footprint and fixating them back to their native locations. Seven instruments were designed for this technique.

Included in the set are tibial tip aimers to locate the posterior meniscal root. Their curvature and shortened distal tip allows physicians to maneuver around the tibial eminence and easily access and manage through the joint. Two aimers, one curved left and one curved right, fit into a modified ACUFEX® DIRECTOR system. The modified standard bullet and handle of the system allows a 2.8mm drill sleeve and drill to pass through and, in effect, create a tunnel to pass sutures.

Also included is an offset guide to displace the secondary drill sleeve 5-7mm distance from the initial drill sleeve. These two sleeves locate the posterior and anterior locations of the posterior root footprint. A self-capturing suture passer can be used to enter the joint and reach the posterior root to pass suture through the meniscus. Once each strand of suture is passed, the suture ends can be pulled down the tibial tunnel and tied over an ENDOBUTTON® for fixation.


Smith & Nephew

Winning Technology:  Suspension Fixation for Bone Graft Healing

Inventors: Ettore Taverna, Stephen Santangelo, Jeff Wyman, Pascal Boileau

Engineer: Mason Bettenga

Bryan Jones, Mason Bettenga, and the Suspension Fixation for Bone Graft Healing

This has not yet been cleared by the FDA for U.S. sale. The concept behind this is as follows:

Suspension fixation is commonly used by physicians for soft tissue to bone repair, in the form of suture anchors for rotator cuff repair, or in combination with fracture fixation plates for the treatment of syndesmotic injuries.

This new approach uses the shortening of sutures to draw to structures together under tension. Smith & Nephew’s design team moved this concept to the arena of fracture healing and bone grafting.

Collaborating with Pr. Pascal Boileau of Nice, France, and Pr. Ettore Taverna of Milan, Italy, the team developed a suspension-based implant which does not require screws for the Latarjet and bone Block techniques for repairing anterior glenoid bone loss. The teams objective is to create an implant that could be delivered easier arthroscopically than traditional screws and allow for higher compression to occur across the facture line.

This technology uses sutures and extra-cortical endobuttons to approximate the graft to the host glenoid bone. Since the suture is soft and flexible prior to applying the compression, it can be easily transported around critical anatomic structures from standard arthroscopic portals in the shoulder which may not be collinear with the pilot holes in the bone.

The system, called a Suspension Fixation for Bone Graft Healing, is making its way through the regulatory process.


Suture Innovations LLC

Winning Technology:  SutureDart™

Inventors: Andrew Kaplan, Daniel Pflaster

Engineers: Carl Silver, Dylan Burns

Carl Silver, Jake Kittell, Andrew Kaplan, Dan Pflaster, Dylan Burns, and the SutureDart™

SutureDart™ allows the surgeon to perform bone sparing drilling and passage of sutures though transosseous tunnels in a single step. SutureDart can be used for soft tissue to bone (e.g., Patella tendon rupture) or bone to bone (e.g., Syndesmosis).

SutureDart addresses many of the shortcomings of transosseous tunnels by attaching the suture to the distal end of the drill. After drilling the bone tunnel, the drill is simply pulled through the tunnel, bringing the suture along for the ride. A novel cassette contains and protects the suture during drilling and is easily removed to unfurl the suture prior to pulling it through the tunnel.

The bone tunnel diameter can be 2-3x smaller than the conventional technique, improving bone healing, reducing mechanical stresses around the tunnels and preventing the suture from windshield wipering in the tunnel. SutureDart™ eliminates the need for a separate suture passing step (and instrument), increasing OR efficiency and surgeon productivity.