A Breakthrough for ACL Injuries at Lakeland Regional Health - The BEAR Implant

ACL tears are a bear of an injury. In fact, more than 400,000 ACL tears occur each year.

The ACL, or the anterior cruciate ligament, is a strong band of tissue that connects 🎵 your thigh bone to your shin bone 🎵at the knee. It is one of the most common knee injuries due to genetics, the make-up of the ACL, muscular imbalance, and injury. Surgery to fix the ACL was only achievable using a tendon from the patient or a cadaver-essentially the ACL could not heal on its own, until now. This bear of an injury has met the BEAR of a surgical advancement.

Eric Wicks, MD

Orthopedic Surgery,
Specializing in Sports Medicine

Eric Wicks, MD at Lakeland Regional Health is the only surgeon in Polk County to offer this surgical advancement- the BEAR Implant. This new approach is a paradigm shift from ACL reconstruction and is the first innovation in ACL tear treatment in more than 30 years.

Dr. Wicks has extensive experience in orthopedic surgery, athletic training, and chiropractic care. Dr. Wicks specializes in the evaluation, prevention, and nonsurgical/surgical treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. As the author of several vital research works including a 2020 publication on Return to Play after Isolated Meniscus Repairs in Athletes, a 2019 book chapter about ACL tears with medial and lateral injuries, an October 2018 piece in The Journal of Emergency Medicine, and a 2016 article in the Journal of Children’s Orthopedics, Dr. Wicks is at the forefront of many surgical innovations for patients needing orthopedic care, including both traditional ACL reconstruction surgery and the BEAR Implant ACL surgery.

What is traditional ACL reconstruction surgery?

Dr. Wicks has performed countless ACL reconstruction surgeries to give patients back mobility and relieve their injury pain. Before ACL reconstruction surgery, Dr. Wicks and his team will take an MRI of the knee to see how much tissue is left on the joint. During surgery, Dr. Wicks will take a tendon graft from the leg (autograft) or the leg of a cadaver (allograft). After removing the torn ACL and drilling into the thigh and shin bones, Dr. Wicks will feed through the graft through the holes and secure it as the new ACL. Traditional ACL reconstruction is still a great option for patients and Dr. Wicks determines which surgery is best for patients depending on their injury.

What is the BEAR Implant ACL surgery?

The Bridge Enhanced ACL Restoration implant allows the ACL to repair itself. Unlike reconstruction, the BEAR Implant does not require a second surgical wound site to remove a healthy tendon from another part of the leg or the use of a donor tendon. The BEAR Implant acts as a bridge to help ends of the torn ACL heal together. The surgeon injects a small amount of the patient’s own blood into the implant and inserts it between the torn ends of the ACL in a minimally invasive procedure. The combination of the BEAR Implant and the patient’s blood enables the body to heal the torn ends of the ACL back together while maintaining the ACL’s original attachments to the thigh and shin bone. As the ACL heals, the BEAR Implant is resorbed by the body, within approximately eight weeks.

Benefits of the BEAR Implant

The BEAR Implant is a new breakthrough in ACL injuries, and are becoming more commonplace. This kind of surgery provides an environment for the ACL to heal itself which was impossible prior. Patients who are eligible for the BEAR Implant may experience some benefits such as:

  • Preserves your knee’s natural anatomy
  • Slightly less post-operative pain
  • Knees are able to start contracting sooner
  • Surgery times are quicker

Both the traditional ACL reconstruction and BEAR Implant are excellent surgical procedures for torn and injured ACLs. Dr. Wicks and his team will work with you to determine which surgical option is best for you and your individualized needs. Once surgery is complete, you will be supported through your recovery alongside your surgical team and our incredible physical therapists.

Interested in learning more?

Click to learn more about Dr. Eric Wicks or our Orthopedic and Sports Medicine care.

Experiencing knee or ACL pain?

Discuss it with your primary care provider today. To make an appointment with one of our providers, click here or call 863.284.5000.