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Dedication signals new era of orthopedic research, treatment

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Mayo Clinic’s pioneering orthopedic practice, which has developed treatments ranging from the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved artificial hip in 1969 to a new computerised knee brace that enables patients with severely weakened legs to walk more normally.

"This is one of the most advanced orthopedic centers in the world," says Daniel Berry, M.D., chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. "It enables us to offer a complete one-stop clinical experience in which the patient easily moves from imaging through diagnostic services to treatment and rehabilitation, all without leaving the centre."

The centre is named after the benefactor whose generous gift to The Campaign for Mayo Clinic made innovations in its clinical practice possible. W. Hall Wendel Jr., the former chair and CEO of Polaris Industries, Medina, Minn., is an avid sportsman whose explorations have frequently led to his need for orthopedic treatment at Mayo Clinic. His injuries and subsequent repairs have led him to refer to himself as "the bionic man." Wendel’s $27.5 million gift enables Mayo to advance and develop musculoskeletal treatments that will help patients worldwide.

The centre’s integrated design and comprehensive functionality allow orthopedic surgeons to serve the patient better by bringing together the expertise of multiple specialists, including rheumatologists, physical medicine and rehabilitation consultants, radiologists, endocrinologists, anesthesiologists and pediatric orthopedic specialists.

"The design supports Mayo Clinic’s traditional goals of offering excellent patient-centered care in a clinical experience that is convenient, efficient, thorough and pleasant. This kind of care that focuses directly on improving patients’ lives is what we do best," says Glenn Forbes, M.D., CEO of Mayo Clinic Rochester.

The two-story, 245,000-square-foot facility offers 57 fully equipped examination rooms; an Outpatient Procedure Center with eight full-sized operating rooms; four image-guided injection rooms; a private family waiting area; and private pre- and post-procedure rooms for patients and families. Dedicated space to serve patient needs for casts and splints includes 10 private bays with easy access to adjacent radiology and anesthesia services. The patient lobby also offers a patient education center equipped with anatomic models, touch-screen computer education services, video on demand, high-speed Internet workstations and explanatory literature to help patients maximise their recovery.

Wendel’s generous gift also established the W. Hall Wendel Jr. Musculoskeletal Research Professorship, an endowment to advance musculoskeletal research that will improve the lives of orthopedic patients in the future. "I want to do what I can to keep Mayo Clinic on the leading edge of musculoskeletal research," says Wendel. "I’m honored to have a role in this significant endeavour."

Previous research led by Kenton Kaufman, Ph.D., the recipient of this Mayo Clinic named professorship, resulted in the development and recent FDA approval of a computerised knee brace that locks and releases at appropriate times to enable patients with severe leg weakness to walk nearly normally. This invention, which has been made commercially available as the Sensor Walk™ by Otto Bock HealthCare, the world’s leading supplier of orthotic and prosthetic components, illustrates how Mayo Clinic research leads to benefits for patients worldwide.

Walter Myers, a Vietnam veteran from San Antonio being treated at the Veterans Affairs hospital there, says his progressive neurological disease meant he was walking with canes, suffering repeated falls and was "a few months from a wheelchair" before he was fitted with the braces invented by Mayo. "I can see where this equipment could benefit so many soldiers returning from battle thinking [like I used to] that they were forever condemned to the bulky shoes and steel appendages of the old [type of brace]. That wheelchair is now so much further down the road that I can no longer see it."

"We are extremely fortunate to have a benefactor who sincerely cares about advancing the science of medicine for patients with musculoskeletal disease," says Dr. Kaufman. "The economic impact of these conditions is staggering at an estimated annual cost of $849 billion, or 7.7 percent of the national gross domestic product, while less than 2 percent of the NIH [National Institutes of Health] budget is dedicated to musculoskeletal research. The generous gift from Mr. Wendel is extremely important to provide us the resources to continue breakthrough discoveries and applications for patients who suffer from the pain and limited mobility of musculoskeletal disease."

(Source: Mayo Clinic: May 2008)

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Posted On: 27 May, 2008
Modified On: 16 January, 2014

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