If you’re a hardcore sportsman (or woman), you have undoubtedly seen either an orthopedic surgeon or, at the very least, a doctor specializing in sports medicine. Even though I am not that active, I have also consulted with a doctor specializing in sports medicine after tearing a bursa near my hip. It was a good reminder that even a friendly baseball game among friends should start by properly stretching and warming up.

Orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists alike use all sorts of cool gadgets when treating their patients, and I thought I would share a few of them with you today.

First, for people who need a custom splint, there are thermoformable splints, which are made from a material called thermoplastic. When heated, this material can be molded around, for example, a sprained ankle to ensure a perfect fit. Once it cools down, it becomes hard and is ready to be worn. Usually, these splints can be removed for bathing and other activities. They are also a great alternative to casts, since they are much lighter and not as warm to wear. They can also be cleaned without being damaged.

In more serious injuries, such as a torn ACL, patients might need ACL surgery, sometimes known as ACL reconstruction. Recovery can be painful, but here again, recovering patients might be given some neat gadgets to help speed recovery and manage the pain. One of these gadgets is called a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine, which attaches to the leg and flexes the knee. This machine helps prevent scar tissue from forming and allows for more nutrients to be delivered to the damaged cartilage. The CPM machine is typically used for two to three weeks after surgery.

Orthopedic surgeons also often give patients recovering from ACL surgery a cold therapy device, which can be wrapped around the knee. The cold therapy device helps reduce inflammation and swelling, and it helps with the pain associated with recovery. For long-term recovery, a knee brace is usually recommended for any future sporting activities.

It’s no fun to have to go see a sports medicine specialist or (even less so) an orthopedic surgeon, but at least they have the tools they need to do their job and ensure a recovery that is as speedy and comfortable as possible.

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