Orthopedic Brace Failure Leads to Severe Injuries

This case study explores an incident where a patient sustained severe injuries due to the failure of a Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthosis (KAFO) brace, raising questions about the role of a missing pin in the device's malfunction.

ByWendy Ketner, M.D.

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Published on February 7, 2024

Man adjusting leg brace

Case Overview

This case study delves into an incident involving a 45-year-old patient with a history of arthritis, who was wheelchair-bound. The individual sustained severe orthopedic and neurological injuries following a fall after the placement of a Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthosis (KAFO) brace.

Upon further examination, it was discovered that a crucial pin integral to the KAFO brace’s structure was missing. There was a question as to whether this missing component contributed to the brace’s failure. Professional insight was provided by a biomedical engineering expert.

Questions to the expert and their responses

Q1

Can you elaborate on your experience designing or advising on the design of braces such as KAFO?

I bring over 15 years of biomechanics experience to the table. My background includes teaching mechanical engineering students about designing objects like the KAFO brace that interact with the body and alter natural biomechanics.

While my specific experience with the KAFO brace is limited, I have been involved in redesigning passive knee braces for rehabilitation purposes.

Q2

Based on your experience, what are typical baseline safeguards for preventing brace failure such as in this case?

To provide an accurate answer, I would need access to either the design/drawings of the device or an actual device to assess its design and potential failure points. However, generally speaking, all medical devices should be designed with safety measures to prevent failures that could harm patients.

About the expert

This expert brings over 15 years of experience in biomechanics engineering, with a strong academic background that includes a BS in Aerospace Engineering and a PhD in Bioengineering. They have an impressive track record of publications in the biomechanical engineering field, conference presentations, and hold two patents. Currently serving as an associate professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean at a university, they also advise and invest in a robotic rehabilitation device company and provide consultancy services in biomechanics.

Expert headshot

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About the author

Wendy Ketner, M.D.

Wendy Ketner, M.D.

Dr. Wendy Ketner is a distinguished medical professional with a comprehensive background in surgery and medical research. Currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at the Expert Institute, she plays a pivotal role in overseeing the organization's most important client relationships. Dr. Ketner's extensive surgical training was completed at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, where she gained hands-on experience in various general surgery procedures, including hernia repairs, cholecystectomies, appendectomies, mastectomies for breast cancer, breast reconstruction, surgical oncology, vascular surgery, and colorectal surgery. She also provided care in the surgical intensive care unit.

Her research interests have focused on post-mastectomy reconstruction and the surgical treatment of gastric cancer, including co-authoring a textbook chapter on the subject. Additionally, she has contributed to research on the percutaneous delivery of stem cells following myocardial infarction.

Dr. Ketner's educational background includes a Bachelor's degree from Yale University in Latin American Studies and a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. Moreover, she is a member of the Board of Advisors for Opollo Technologies, a fintech healthcare AI company, contributing her medical expertise to enhance healthcare technology solutions. Her role at Expert Institute involves leveraging her medical knowledge to provide insights into legal cases, underscoring her unique blend of medical and legal acumen.

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