H.13 At-Home Ankle Distraction/Traction device
The idea for this project started in 2008 when I cared for a patient with osteoarthritis of the ankle, which was causing significant difficulty ambulating. My main treatments consisted of ankle distraction and joint mobilization. After each session, he was able to ambulate with minimal to no pain, sometimes lasting over 24 hours. I came up with the idea of a home distraction/ traction device that would assist patients in providing traction at home. A literature review by Rodriguez-Merchan in 2017 showed that patients would certainly benefit from this type of device.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5592360/). They showed a range of positive outcomes in 73-91% of studies of ankle joint distraction reviewed.
There are several ankle devices on the market currently that provide traction, but they are similar to an over-the-door cervical traction (https://www.dynamictechnomedicals.com/ankle-traction/). These devices are not ideal, as they need to be applied in a supine position and typically require assistance from another person to setup. Also, the patient has minimal to no control as to the amount of force applied to the joint. I think we can come up with a device that can do much better!
As to the impact on my clinical practice as a physical therapist, I believe it would provide great benefit. Instead of a patient receiving this manual treatment from me twice a week, they could incorporate this at home as part of their home exercise program. Then, when the patient comes in for their physical therapy appointments, the focus could be on flexibility, stability, balance, and function.
Students collaborating on this project with be supervised by myself (an Ortho/ Sports Medicine PT) in addition to a world renowned foot and ankle surgeon (and the pioneer behind the “gift box’ technique for Achilles Tendon repair).
- Biology/Pre-Health Experience