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A Bionic Brace May Replace Knee Surgery for some Baby Boomers

February 25, 2011

Baby boomers are an active bunch and their aging joints can take a beating.  A new bionic type device may keep them from dropping to their knees in pain. 

66-year-old Dennis Venizelos isn't letting age slow him down.  "I play a lot of tennis still. I golf and ride bikes mostly," said Dennis.  But when knee pain began taking a toll, it looked like joint replacement surgery could be down the road.   

Dennis said, "I didn't want to go through that surgery. I had a lot of friends that went through that surgery so, so I was gonna' see if there was any alternatives."  He found one in Bionicare - an F-D-A approved knee brace that treats osteoarthritis.  "Now we've got a treatment option that may postpone the need for a total knee replacement and give the patient a pain-free, functional interval," said orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Frederic Nicola. 

It works in two ways. First, it realigns the joint to unload pressure on the bones.  According to Dr. Nicola, "there's no rubbing of those surfaces anymore and that eliminates a significant amount of pain."  Second: a generator sends low-level signals to the knee. The idea is to restore the joint's natural electrical environment and, over time, increase its function.  

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"As you talk you create a low field electrical signal. As the joint degenerates, you lose some of those signal changes. What this brace does, or the electrical field, is recreate it," said Dr. Nicola.  Dennis wears the brace when and wherever he can, racking up more than one thousand hours so far.  "My knees do feel much better because the pain has subsided," said Dennis.  

Now, he hopes to ride pain-free right into his golden years.  The Bionicare brace costs about 1,400 dollars.  However, in some cases, Medicare and certain insurances have been covering the treatment.

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