In workers’ compensation, one of the most misunderstood devices within durable medical equipment (DME) is the bone growth stimulator. A physician may prescribe a treatment called bone growth therapy, commonly known as bone growth stimulation for injured workers who experience challenges in the healing process. Bone growth stimulators (BSG) are incredible bone healing devices that fall into one of two categories: cervical and spine or long bone.
A BGS in the cervical and spine facet is most commonly utilized after a spinal fusion surgery to assist the injured worker in the healing and recovery process. A long bone stimulator is used on bones that are non-vertebral such as the bones of an injured worker’s arms, legs, fingers and toes. The term “long” can be misleading because it does not refer to the length of the bone rather the shape of the bone. The only type of bone that BSGs are not used on are flat bones such as the scapula or pelvis.
Along with servicing multiple types of bones, BSGs use a multitude of different methods to generate healing. The most common method is the use of an electromagnetic pulse to the injury or fusion site. Orthofix, Biomet® EBI and DJO stimulators all utilize electromagnetic pulses. Another method is the use of ultrasound technologies adopted by companies such as Smith & Nephew for their EXOGEN device. The ultrasound technology is unique in that this method is used on vertebral and long bones.
BGSs remain classified as a Class III medical device by the FDA, preventing ancillary services providers like Orchid Medical from renting this class of equipment to injured workers. Class III medical devices are those authorized for single-patient use only. BGS’ are also equipped with an automatic shut-off after 270 days to avoid any recycling, resale or transference of use. If the bone has not healed after the 270-day period, providers will replace the unit at no cost, continuing this process as long as the injured worker remains compliant to prescribed orders.
Bone growth stimulators are a significant advancement in medical technology that is effective in helping injured workers heal from a bone fracture or spinal fusion surgery. At Orchid, our focus is providing injured workers the ancillary services they need to help them get back to life and back to work as quickly as possible.