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A Link to the East

By: Peter Pollack

AAOS welcomes Japan as 2012 Guest Nation

Peter Pollack

Japan—the Land of the Rising Sun—has a long and rich history dating back thousands of years. Most scholars date the emergence of a uniquely Japanese culture noted for its art, poetry, and prose to the Heian period (794–1185). For much of the last century, Japan has been an economic powerhouse, and the country currently boasts the world’s fourth largest economy (based on gross domestic product) and the tenth largest population.

In recognition of the growing relationship between orthopaedists in the United States and those in Japan, AAOS has invited Japan to be the Guest Nation at the 2012 Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Familiar conditions, new approaches
According to the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA), modern orthopaedics was first introduced to the country about a century ago, when the primary issues were pediatric deformities and joint tuberculosis. The JOA itself was founded in April 1926 with the goals of promoting scientific study, disseminating study results, and improving contact and cooperation in the field. Later that year, JOA published the first issue of its scientific journal, Nippon Seikeigeka Gakkai zasshi (Journal of Orthopaedic Science), which has been available in English since 1996.

Japanese orthopaedic surgeons face many of the same conditions familiar to U.S. orthopaedists. The country’s aging yet active population is dealing with osteoporosis, bone fractures, and progressive degeneration of the knees and intervertebral disks. Japan, like the United States, has seen an increase in the number of joint replacement surgeries, instrumentation spine surgeries, and arthroscopic and endoscopic procedures.

To reach out to the aging segment of Japanese society, JOA has adopted the term “Locomotive Syndrome,” which the organization defines as “conditions under which the elderly have been receiving care services, or high-risk conditions under which they may soon require care services, due to problems of the locomotive organs.” JOA promotes the concept of simple self-evaluation tests that people can perform to evaluate their own risk of future mobility limitations, with the goal of increasing public awareness and wellness.

“We are very pleased to be invited as Guest Nation at the 2012 AAOS Annual Meeting,” says Yukihide Iwamoto, MD, current president of the JOA. Dr. Iwamoto counts advances in nonsurgical treatments and joint-preserving surgery, along with a culture of high-quality basic research, as among the highlights of the practice of orthopaedics in his country. He hopes that his country’s attendance will help foster a spirit of international cooperation.

“We are very interested in arranging international, multicenter clinical trials with our American colleagues,” he says. “Surgeons in both countries have much to offer each other.”

In addition, Dr. Iwamoto wishes to extend his thanks to the international orthopaedic community for its response in the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. “The assistance we received from other countries was tremendous,” he says. “We truly are a brotherhood of medicine.”

About the Guest Nation program
The AAOS Guest Nation Program was inaugurated in 2005 to foster greater recognition and awareness of the contributions made to the practice of orthopaedics by orthopaedic surgeons from around the globe, and to enhance the robust international flavor and excitement of the AAOS Annual Meeting. Previous Guest Nation honorees have included Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Thailand, Mexico, and Turkey.

Check your Annual Meeting program for special events and activities related to Japan and the Guest Nation program. During the meeting, be sure to visit the poster exhibit, which features 10 original scientific posters from Japan. Stop by the Guest Nation booth to greet our Japanese friends with a bow and a hearty “Konichiwa!”

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