Arthritis Ideator Award Winner
The idea: KneeKG, by Emovi
The ideators: Michelle LaFlamme and Alex Fuentes
The solution: A dynamic tool for diagnosing knee osteoarthritis by examining biomechanical markers while the knee is in motion, enabling custom treatment plans.
Having participated in sports activities throughout her life, lawyer and entrepreneur Michelle Laflamme viewed knee pain simply as “part of life”; Knee problems are prevalent, and determining the real problem is often a process of elimination for clinicians because nobody can see inside the knee.
In 2007, Laflamme met a group of orthopedic surgeons and biomedical science researchers, including Alex Fuentes, who also saw the need for better tools to accurately examine the knee. It is known that even one degree of malalignment can cause stress on the knee, and it is not possible to pick this up with the naked eye or in gait labs. These doctors and researchers created a testing device fitted to examine the knee dynamically, identifying biomechanical markers that indicate causes of pain and symptoms. The exam then suggests a personalized and targeted treatment plan.
Laflamme expressed interest in acquiring and commercializing the device, known as ‘KneeKG.’ Emovi was born in 2008 and Fuentes, part of the research team, joined the fledgling company.
“KneeKG testing can indicate the problem, suggest a treatment plan, and indicate the appropriateness for surgery,” says Fuentes. “This has been proven to reduce pain, improve outcomes and improve quality of life. In Canada, we have also demonstrated that it can reduce waiting lists for the number of people waiting to see a surgeon.”
Presently, only 59 per cent of Canadians requiring knee joint replacements receive them within the six-month recommended timeframe, causing unnecessary, excruciating pain. More than 75,000 Canadians had knee replacements last year.
Today, KneeKG is commercialized in the United States, Europe and Canada, but reimbursement for the exam hasn’t yet been approved in Canada. Laflamme and Fuentes plan to use the funding from the Arthritis Society’s Ideator Award to work with the Arthritis Society to establish an expert panel that can advocate for that change in each province.
“We want to make this happen for patients,” says Laflamme. “I’m passionate about innovation in the medical community, bringing better care to patients and making their lives simpler.”
Adds Fuentes, “More and more, clinical guidelines support the value of biomechanical markers and the need to assess them with objective and accurate data. Having the support of the Arthritis Society is very important for us.”
“Having the support of the Arthritis Society is very important for us.”