Last week the Medical Society welcomed Professor Deborah Eastwood to the virtual stage, a consultant paediatric orthopaedic surgeon. With a particular interest in treating children with growth syndromes, Professor Eastwood explained musculoskeletal conditions and the potential treatment approaches to an audience of students from partner schools, many of whom are hoping to pursue Medicine at university.
By analysing the interrelation between medicine and art, with a particular emphasis on Achondroplasia (a bone-growth disorder characterised by disproportionally short arms and legs), she expressed how a simple change in an amino acid sequence can manifest in drastic changes to the structure of the skeleton.
One remarkable treatment for such a condition, although not a cure, is to physically lengthen bone tissue. By attaching pins to either side of a specific point on the bone and applying a slight force to separate them, bone tissue can grow up to 1mm each day. Methods such as these, as well as attaching splints to bowed legs just like the Tree of Andry, can significantly improve the well-being of patients.
However, Professor Eastwood was careful to remind us that it is essential to find the ideal balance between improving a person’s looks and not compromising their bodily function.