In the United States, each year there are approximately 50,000 new cases of ankle arthritis. The painful and debilitating disease leads to profound skeletal and functional changes, including deformity, severe and recurrent pain, cartilage breakdown, and gait dysfunction.

A holistic approach to assessing patients with ankle arthritis and total ankle replacement is driven by a Virginia Tech researcher’s desire to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.

Robin Queen, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine has been awarded the 2017 Kappa Delta Young Investigator’s Award for conducting outstanding musculoskeletal disease or injury research with the goal of advancing patient treatment and care.

The award was presented by the Kappa Delta Sorority and the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in San Diego, California.

At the meeting Queen presented a paper titled, “Using Lower Extremity Biomechanics in Patients with Ankle Osteoarthritis and Ankle Arthroplasty to Direct Clinical Care,” that details ongoing research exploring the quality of life and functional recovery in patients with ankle arthritis and those who receive a total ankle replacement.

Previous studies have focused on the ankle joint, specifically with an emphasis on examining implant failure and operative complications.

“We examine more than just the ankle joint,” said Queen, also an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the director of the Kevin P. Granata Biomechanics Lab. “It is important to understand how the joint with arthritis is responding, but it is equally as important to understand how these changes impact all lower extremity joints in both legs in order to treat the entire patient, not just one joint.”

Permanent alterations in walking mechanics that result from ankle arthritis often have a far-reaching effect on long-term health and function. With deeper awareness of these health impacts, clinical care can be adapted to deliver a higher quality of life and lower the incidence of second surgeries.

Queen’s goal is to understand overall function that will allow for the development of patient centered care models for surgery and rehabilitation and improve long-term physical function.

First awarded in 1950, the Kappa Delta recognizes the best of orthopaedic scientific exploration. This award remains one of the most sought-after and prestigious achievements in musculoskeletal research throughout the world.

Written by Alex Parrish

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