“Smart Implant” Helps Knee Replacement Patient Track Progress Using App and Real-Time Data

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Parkwest Surgeon is First in Tennessee to Use Implant That Monitors Gait, Range of Motion and More

Cindy Surdyka, a dedicated executive assistant at Covenant Health for over 33 years, has always trusted the exceptional patient care and cutting-edge technology at Covenant Health facilities. When debilitating knee pain began to interfere with her life, Surdyka turned to Parkwest Medical Center, where orthopedic surgeon Ryan Dabbs, MD, provided expertise and an innovative approach to knee replacement. Her journey showcases her excellent patient experience with Dr. Dabbs and the revolutionary Persona IQ® Zimmer “smart implant” for knee replacement surgery.

Choosing Total Knee Replacement for Pain Relief

Cindy Surdyka outside near trees
Cindy Surdyka received a “smart implant” knee replacement at Parkwest Medical Center.

Surdyka’s pain worsened during the early part of last year; her knee gave out completely in May 2023. Injections brought temporary relief, but severe discomfort persisted. Last September, Surdyka opted for total knee replacement surgery under Dr. Dabbs’ skilled care.

Dr. Dabbs identified Surdyka as an excellent candidate for a “smart implant” operation. “Cindy was motivated and wanted to be active after surgery,” he said. “She was also tech-savvy enough to benefit from the smart implant.” Dr. Dabbs said the technology is available for patients undergoing primary knee replacement surgery who have Wi-Fi available at home.

Smart Implants: a New Era in Knee Replacement

Dr. Dabbs is the first doctor in Tennessee to use the Persona IQ® Zimmer smart implant for total knee replacement surgeries. The innovative device combines a Persona® The Personalized Knee® implant with advanced sensor technology. The sensor measures various gait metrics, range of motion, step count and walking speed. The FDA-approved technology provides real-time data securely transmitted to a platform that’s accessible by both patient and surgeon.

Ryan Dabbs, MD
Ryan Dabbs, MD, orthopedic surgeon

“The smart total knee implant is essentially a mobile gait lab built into the total knee replacement,” Dr. Dabbs explained. “This allows the surgery team to monitor patients’ progress remotely. If a certain metric or trend isn’t improving, I can intervene early to get them back on track and help improve their outcome.”

Knee Surgery Enhanced by Robotic Assistance

The smart implant procedure uses Zimmer ROSA® robotic-arm technology, which keeps the cutting block in the correct position. The surgeon has hands-on control, holding and using all other instruments to perform the knee replacement.

“Precise measurements and cuts are performed during the surgery. The knee replacement then has the best fit, alignment and range of motion possible because of this robotic and computer assistance,” Dr. Dabbs noted.

Surdyka recalled her outpatient surgery at Parkwest Medical Center as a “seamless experience.” “Every step was smooth, and I was home and walking the same day,” she said.

As Surdyka recovered, Dr. Dabbs and his team monitored her progress remotely. She was thrilled with the technology, which provided detailed insights into her recovery and encouraged her to stay active and follow her physical therapy regimen. “I was tickled that this technology measures my steps and connects to an app that tracks my progress,” she said.

Physical Therapy: A Vital Step Toward Recovery

Physical therapy played an important role in Surdyka’s recovery. Just one week after surgery, she began sessions at Covenant Health Therapy Centers – West Knoxville with Grant Disney, DPT. Disney’s empathy and ability to help patients achieve their goals were instrumental in Surdyka’s progress.

She initially attended sessions three times a week, then twice a week as she improved. Surdyka emphasized the importance of following through with physical therapy. She advises others, “If you’re not willing to do the exercises in PT, you’ll have a tough time.”

Hand holding mobile phone with app for tracking smart implant surgery recovery
Smart implant technology provides patients with an app to track their recovery progress.

Her diligent efforts paid off. She achieved significant milestones in her knee’s bend radius (range of flexion), which was crucial for mobility and overall recovery. The smart implant, in conjunction with the remote-care management platform, provided Surdyka with daily exercises and real-time feedback.

“The app encouraged me to exercise, giving me six to seven moves per day with illustrations,” she explained. This interactive approach kept her motivated and on track with her rehabilitation.

Benefits of Innovative Care Close to Home

Nearly a year after her surgery, Surdyka is back to enjoying activities she loves, such as yard work and walking her dog Auggie. Her implant continues to provide valuable data, helping Surdyka and Dr. Dabbs monitor her progress. She is thrilled with her improved quality of life. “I have no regrets,” she said. “Dr. Dabbs was wonderful and attentive, and patiently answered all my questions.”

The integration of expert, patient-centered care and innovative technology are paramount at Covenant Health, leading to successful recoveries and improved patient outcomes. Surdyka’s journey with her “smart knee” implant, coupled with compassionate care at Parkwest Medical Center, enabled her to regain mobility and return to a life that’s free from the interruption of knee pain.

As Surdyka looks forward to reaching her goal of 10,000 steps each day, she remains excited about the implant’s possibilities. She said she feels fortunate to have access to such advanced medical care close to home.

To learn more about innovative surgery technologies at Covenant Health and our member facilities, visit our surgery services web page.

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Covenant Health

Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, Covenant Health is a community-owned, healthcare enterprise committed to providing the right care at the right time and place. Covenant Health is the area’s largest employer and has more than 11,000 compassionate caregivers, expert clinicians, and dedicated employees and volunteers.

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