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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Shoulders are complicated and hard to repair. Restoring a shoulder to a more natural state is nearly impossible, but that’s just what a team at Purdue University has done.

Purdue University professors Eric Nauman and Dr. Darryl Dickerson have invented what they call BioEnthesis. It’s a surgical implant that uses the body’s own cells to help reattach the bone and tendon, bringing the shoulder to a more natural state and cutting down recovery time.

It’s a solution to a problem we all have to deal with.

“So your shoulder is a really complicated joint, if you’ve ever dislocated your shoulder, you’d appreciate it,” Nauman tells WIBC, “but most of us will have some sort of shoulder problems as we get older.”

Those problems are usually things like rotator cuff tears.

Nauman details a typical rotator cuff tear, “the muscles pull off of the bone, and then the doctor’s have to go in, surgeons reattach it, but that generally doesn’t have very good long term results.”

That’s where Nauman and Dr. Dickerson step in.

“We started this work about 17 years ago, and we came up with a method to do that reattachment,” Nauman tells WIBC, “we use the body’s own cells to kind of trick them into re-growing that interface [natural joint material].”

“What we had to do to make sure it was useful to the surgeons was not just have a great repair, but one that could be bent, folded and pressed into this little tiny space and then opened up so they can actually make all the attachments they need to make,” says Nauman.

Surgeons began implementing BioEnthesis into shoulder repairs back in February at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Nauman believes BioEnthesis has bright future ahead of it, because of the possibilities it presents.

He tells WIBC BioEnthesis isn’t just limited to shoulder repair, “essentially anywhere your muscles attach to bone, any muscle attachment, eventually this will help improve those outcomes.”

In the end, Nauman, Dr. Dickerson, and the team of students and researchers at Purdue want to accomplish much more than improving joint surgeries.

“We hope we’re changing how orthopedic surgery is done – making it less evasive with better outcomes,” says Nauman.

Listen to the full interview with Professor Eric Nauman here: