Shawn W. O'Driscoll, M.D., Ph.D., focuses his research on both basic science and clinical studies of the elbow. He studies the biomechanics of the joint when it is intact, injured and has been repaired. His research includes the biomechanics of prosthetic radial head replacement.
Dr. O'Driscoll also investigates the outcomes of surgical techniques used to treat post-traumatic, arthritic and congenital conditions of the elbow. Additionally, he is interested in elbow-related clinical diagnostics, total joint arthroplasty, sports medicine, osteochondritis dissecans and the rehabilitative benefits of continuous passive motion.
- Elbow biomechanics. Dr. O'Driscoll studies pressures, patterns and areas of joint contact in the elbow. His studies allow him to develop and optimize soft tissue and fracture repair strategies and techniques.
- Prosthetic radial head replacement. Dr. O'Driscoll's understanding of elbow biomechanics and anatomy has allowed him to design the first commercially available anatomic radial head prosthesis. He continues to investigate ways of improving radial head arthroplasty.
- Surgical techniques. Dr. O'Driscoll has been able to develop and refine arthroscopic and open surgical methods for treating conditions of the elbow that had previously been thought to be irreparable. He continues to innovate new surgical techniques and dedicates a significant amount of his effort to teaching others what he learns.
- Treatment of arthritis. Dr. O'Driscoll has been a pioneer and leading authority in the treatment of shoulder and elbow arthritis using minimally invasive joint preservation surgery.
- Clinical diagnostics. Dr. O'Driscoll has developed clinical exams and uses innovative approaches involving CT scans and 3-D modeling to better understand elbow pathologies and injuries and plan their treatment.
- Continuous passive motion (CPM). Dr. O'Driscoll is an authority in the principles and application of CPM and a firm believer in its benefits in accelerating rehabilitation of joints and recovering motion. He has used postoperative CPM to treat more than 1,000 patients with elbow contractures and is respected for his expertise regarding its use in this context. He plans to conduct a randomized prospective trial to compare its efficacy versus physiotherapy alone.
Significance to patient care
Injuries affecting the elbow can be very debilitating. Overcoming the pain, loss of motion and resulting loss of function can be significant challenges for patients and the surgeons who treat them.
As such, there is considerable interest in the development and refinement of techniques to repair or reconstruct injured elbows. Improving existing methods and devising new approaches in this field would raise the quality of life for many people. Importantly, in this era of escalating health care costs, advances in this area will also decrease the long-term costs of health care related to elbow injuries.