Self-Powered, Bioresorbable Implant Accelerates Bone Healing

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Wisconsin’s dedication to the Green Bay Packers is the stuff of legend. It’s not just another NFL team — the Packers affect every aspect of life. So when quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in 2017 — while playing against arch-rival the Minnesota Vikings, no less — a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW-Madison) figured it was time to re-examine the use of electro-stimulation to heal bone fractures. It typically takes about 12 weeks for a collarbone to fully heal, writes Jason Daley on the university website’s news page. It’s well known that electricity can accelerate bone healing, “but ‘zapping’ fractures never really caught on,” he writes. The reason for that is the procedure, which involves surgically implanting and removing externally powered electrodes. UW-Madison Professor Xudong Wang invented a more convenient way to use electricity to speed up bone healing (but not in time to help Rodgers get back in the game). His fracture electro-stimulation device (FED) is a thin-film construction made of bioresorbable poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), or PLA. A key feature of the implantable is that it is self-powered via body movements.

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