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New Innovative Ways To Make That Health Insurance Stretch Further

Apr 27, 2008
When my friend had a motorbike crash and broke his leg in several places, his health insurance paid out a tidy sum, which was just as well as he ended up off work for a year with bones that refused to heal. Under normal circumstances, bones will heal themselves by grafting over with new bone growth. Although this can take some time the body is very good at healing itself.

However, this is not always the case and un-healing bones can cause major problems. My friend was threatened with whole limb amputation if the bones didn't begin to heal themselves very soon as infection is a huge risk. Bone grafts, where bone is taken from another part of the body and grafted on to the problem area is one way this type of injury can be treated but is not always successful.

When a bone is significantly damaged through a severe trauma or when tumours have been removed, extra help to heal is often needed. However, this does lead to more time lost at work and can cause more financial problems. Health insurance will have made their payout but it really is impossible to know how long this will have to last for.

British scientists have made a breakthrough that is hoped will speed up the healing process for broken bones, thus making that health insurance money last the necessary period. A glass implant can be placed in the body which would then dissolve, releasing calcium and encouraging the bones to re-grow.

Bone grafting is second only to blood in terms of the amount of transplanted material but causes other problems. Usually bone is removed from the hip to graft into other needed areas but this can cause a fair amount of post operative pain and much longer recovery time. It also means the amount that can be harvested is limited.

Sometimes, it is possible to use bone from a bone bank or from animals but this carries the risk of rejection or infection.

With glass implants this is not the case. Bone repair, healing and recovery time would be much quicker and the patient would have much less stress wondering how long that health insurance money was going to last.

In this new procedure, a cloudy looking glass implant containing small pore holes that looks similar to bone will be put in place. The implant reacts with bodily fluids once in place and gradually dissolves, bonding to the patient's bone and immediately being able to support the body. Further bone will then grow over this. In a clever way, the implant will dissolve at the same rate that new bone grows and replaces it.

The implants also emit silicone which sends signals to the body's receptors that tell it to produce more bone. This new material has been developed from a product that was discovered in the Seventies when they found a glass powder which, when applied to broken bones, could only be broken if the bone itself was broken.

Advancing technology has allowed scientists to use that discovery until surgeons are now in a position to put it into regular practice.

This is being hailed as a breakthrough, particularly for the elderly whose bones take longer than average to heal. Every year, many elderly people suffer broken hips and have to go through the agony of hip replacement. It is thought that it will be possible to use these implants in the majority of cases. Another favoured application will be the repair of cleft palates in children as the repair will be immediately useable and will do away with the need for further surgery as the child grows.
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