Virtual Fracture Templating Pre-Course Project Earns 2024 AO Trauma Innovation in Education Award

Tucson (United States) orthopedic surgeon, Jason A Lowe, MD, FAAOS, FAOA, has earned the 2024 AO Trauma Innovation in Education Award for his project to advance the educational impact of the AO Trauma Course—Basic Principles of Fracture Management by providing course participants with interactive, cognitive, and virtual pre-course templating exercises.

Lowe, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Arizona-Tucson, impressed the award jury with his submission titled “Virtual Fracture Templating Support Basic Principles Course Curriculum.” He will receive the AO Trauma Innovation in Education Award in December during a ceremony at the AO Davos Courses 2024, to which he has been invited as faculty.

Providing basic pre-course knowledge

Lowe’s project—one of 36 submitted and 19 eligible for the 2024 award—impressed the award jury.

“Preoperative templating is a cognitive exercise requiring understanding an application of [the] AO principles,” Lowe wrote in his submission, noting that templating is taught with tracing paper following lectures on absolute and relative stability at the AO Trauma Course—Basic Principles of Fracture Management. “The introduction of a virtual pre-course provides basic knowledge instruction in advance of the in-person course and provides an opportunity to use virtual templating before and during the in-person course in a manner that enhances comprehension of [the] AO principles.”

In 2023, Lowe said, AO North America used the Bonesetter software platform to integrate two virtual templating modules—humeral fracture and forearm templating lab—into the basic principles course.

“These templating modules are complemented with a new, required, pre-course lecture located within Totara,” he said, explaining the lecture is necessary to introduce templating software, describe the exercises’ relevance to course participants and set their in-person course expectations.

Lowe praised Bonesetter developer Rahul Vaidya, MD—a longtime AO Trauma North America faculty member and chair of the Wayne State University (WSU) School of Medicine’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and interim chair of its Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation—for generously making the platform available to help advance the impact of the basic principles course.

“Anytime you can help move the needle in terms of innovation in education, it’s great to be part of that,” Vaidya said, calling Lowe’s project “a great way to teach templating.”

Learning is a safe, virtual environment

The pre-course virtual templating exercises raise the impact of participant education through early, interactive, cognitive templating exercises in the virtual pre-course period.

“This exercise comes after participants have completed the basic principles lectures,” said Lowe. “In addition, participants are provided an opportunity to apply those principles in a safe, virtual environment.”

Rooted in the AO principles

The format’s effectiveness is improved by selecting a case (e.g., humeral shaft fracture) that can be stabilized with multiple treatment paradigms, all using the AO principles, and using a case that will be discussed during small group case discussions. According to Lowe, knowing that humeral shaft fixation will be revisited in small group discussion, participants are motivated to complete the pre-course virtual exercise.

“Preoperative templating is again revisited on course days two and three, when participants use Bonesetter to complete the preoperative templating and practical lab forearm session,” he added.