The year 2021 has given a lot of hope to people in general. Especially, those who faced physical issues, ortho to be precise.
Orthopedics has been one of the most impacted medical specialties during the pandemic. Be it in terms of the the numbers of the patients, cases, treatment options and surgical procedures that have been carried out. Surveys indicate that certain aspects of orthopedics saw a dip as sharp and severe as almost about 94% across almost about 6-8 months of lockdown.
Padmashree Awardee Dr. Ashok Raj Gopal, Group Chairman, Musculoskeletal Disorders & Orthopedics, Medanta the Medicity spoke to Transformative at length and shared how the health of people in general got impacted and the way out…
Pandemic Side-effects on the Physique
“One of the things that has happened during the pandemic is that everybody was working from home, and therefore, was restricted to the home environment. That has meant a change in their day-today orientation in terms of their normal activities that they have been doing for last several years. In some ways it also meant a re-orientation and re-adaptation of their day-today routines. So if you look at really what has happened is that a lot of people who were used to doing a certain amount of physical activity got reduced to virtually a negligible amount, almost down to zero, ” says Dr. Rajgopal.
He further added that WFH necessarily brought about the introduction of a lot of hours spent in front of either a laptop or the desktop. “And, binge eating, which helps us to take our stress away and spend time. That has led to issues with the weight, issues with posture, issues with activities, and physical exertions. So, in terms of these issues, what we observed as a medical fraternity during the virtual OPDs , the telemedicine, or in the recent months the face-to face contact. A large portion of patients come to us with complains like neck pain, backache, shoulder pains, aches and pains in the knees and ankles.
The other issue that has happened is that a lot of our patients complained about the substantial weight-gain. Obviously, because of the lack of the physical activity. There is also being medical issues with patients that we have operated upon in the recent months is diabetes, hypertension have gone out of control. Primarily, because there medicines to some extent were dose related, after a certain amount of exercises being done.
Mental Well-being is Important for Physical Health
All this led to a certain amount of lethargy, and so the general ambiance of the body took a beating. And finally, to top it all I think one of the big issues that we all faced was being locked up at home brought along with it the element of depression and feeling of hopelessness. As an orthopedic surgeon, I do believe that mental health is one of the most neglected part of the medical ambit but I think this pandemic in a way has brought this to the forefront.” he said.
This means that we as orthopedic surgeons must address these patients not just on the physical ambit but also on the mental and social front and cheer them up , get them back to where they belong.
Happily, over the last 3-4 months work has picked up , patients are a little more willing to come into the physical appearances in the OPD. Even as a surgeon, for us do the virtual consultation, somehow takes the human element out of it. It is also not entirely satisfying for the patients and certainly as physicians, in a way we don’t feel very fulfilled.
Lot of technology has come to our help, lot of virtual meetings has started happening in the medical sector, We are doing a lot more robotic surgeries, where physical contact with the patient is minimized, obviously . It is still surgeon-based, surgeon-guided and surgeon-controlled surgeries but the procedures are getting executed without patients and doctors getting exposed to each other. And, keeping a safe distance and maintaining a safety profile. The whole paradigm has changed.
There will be a sensible balance of in-person and virtual consultation in the medical sector.
Google with Caution, says the Expert
“Doctors spend a lifetime trying to get to a position where they can help you , the instant 5 mins or 20-mins reading out of Google or internet cannot give you the validation. Yes, you can get some sort of a guideline, or an idea but I would strongly urge to people not to self-diagnose and more than that not self-medicate. Not everything you read is correct. A lot of drugs have major side-effects and can be life-threatening too. Your internet doesn’t talk about all this, I would urge a lot of caution.
Every ache and pain in the knee does not mandate you going and visiting a specialist in a hospital obviously but beyond a certain point if your symptoms and your issues are not settling down, it makes sense to consult a doctor and a physician.
The Future of Orthopedics
“We have gone in to a minimal invasive mode, and robotics is a very strong driver of that paradigm. Its not available for every single procedure, though. But it is increasing, and I foresee that in next 4-5 years robotics and artificial intelligence and augmented reality, these are going to be the terms that we will be hearing a lot more of . Diagnostics have improved to a tremendous extent both in terms of lab studies, we are now going into stuff like genomics, and gene studies. We are able to understand and handle infections a lot better with the help of these newer platforms. Today with technology we are able to pin-point the infections in 24 hours, earlier it would take weeks. In a way it saves the patients a lot of time, saves them from further complications. The future looks hopeful for sure,” sums Dr. Rajgopal.