Engineering research to benefit complex shoulder surgery

A head-and-shoulder photo of Josh Giles, standing outdoor
Assistant Professor Josh Giles. Photo credit: Jena Bjol

2020 September – Reverse shoulder replacements are complex procedures that are typically required in patients with severe arthritis, muscle degeneration, and loss of arm function. Now, thanks to a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), UVic researcher Josh Giles will develop a patient-specific, surgical decision-assistance tool aimed at improving outcomes for people who need this procedure.

Giles, who will receive $378,676 over five years, is leading an inter-disciplinary team that includes surgeons and researchers in fields such as biomechanics, machine learning, mathematics and rehabilitation science. The project will focus on using biomechanical simulations, statistical modeling and machine learning to create a simple tool that orthopaedic surgeons can use to guide how they plan their joint replacement operations to account for each patient’s unique characteristics.

The major difference between a standard shoulder replacement and a reverse procedure is that in the latter, the ball and socket parts of the shoulder joint switch sides so that their normal position is reversed.

Research in this area is important to Canada because while the need for orthopaedic treatment is rapidly increasing, patient outcomes for many treatments remain less than optimal – negatively affecting both patient satisfaction and healthcare costs.

“I’m very excited to have this opportunity to work with an excellent team to advance knowledge in reverse shoulder replacement and improve patient outcomes through new surgical planning technologies,” said Giles, an assistant professor in UVic’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

2020Sep23 AT