The Critical Role of Philanthropy
Historically, orthopaedic research has been underfunded, in part due to a prevailing impression that musculoskeletal disease is important—but not urgent. Even today, with the federal government declaring 2002-2011 “The Bone and Joint Decade,” and with projections showing an alarming increase in musculoskeletal conditions over the next 20 years, musculoskeletal research receives less than 2% of the NIH budget. Therefore, partnerships with philanthropists who share our vision of ever-better medical care, and cutting-edge research to improve outcomes for patients, are of critical importance.
Musculoskeletal disorders and diseases are a leading cause of disability in the United States. Beginning at age 25, our muscles and bones steadily lose mass, an inexorable trend that erodes their strength and functionality. This consequence of aging, together with accidents, injuries, disease-related causes, and congenital disorders, cause more than one in four Americans today to suffer a musculoskeletal condition requiring medical attention.
The loss of bone (osteoporosis) and muscle (sarcopenia) rank among the most important global health problems. Over 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone density. As populations age in the US and worldwide, and as the sedentary “Western lifestyle” becomes predominant, the prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions will almost surely increase. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that, while 27 million Americans currently suffer from osteoarthritis, by the year 2030, 25% of American adults, nearly 67 million people, will have this diagnosis.
Meeting Urgent Needs
Orthopaedic surgeons step in when structures of the musculoskeletal system are damaged or impaired: sports-related injury, degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis, trauma (including accidents), infection, tumor, and congenital disorders and deformities. These conditions shatter health and diminish quality of life for vast numbers of people. They also significantly burden society. In the US, annual direct and indirect costs for bone and joint health are approaching $900 billion, about 8% of the gross domestic product; osteoarthritis alone accounts for over $185 billion in expenses each year.
Outpacing Need With Progress In Clinical Methods
While the need for orthopaedic care is expanding, so, too, is surgeons’ capacity to treat and cure many musculoskeletal conditions. In the 21st century, we are seeing the advent of a host of new medical and surgical methods—such as longer-lasting joint replacements—that bring new hope to orthopaedic patients. Johns Hopkins physician-scientists are leading many of these advances, through ground-breaking research and innovations in patient care.
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Director of Development
Johns Hopkins Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
601 N. Caroline St., Suite 5251
Baltimore, MD 21287