AO Trauma North America’s Vaidya advances access to templating education with free Bonesetter App

Rahul Vaidya

It's said that necessity is the mother of invention and that’s precisely the force behind the Bonesetter software platform conceived by AO Trauma North America’s Rahul Vaidya, MD, CM, FRCSc, FAOA, FAAOS.

Vaidya, chair of the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery (Detroit, United States) and interim chair of the school’s Department of Physical Medicine, initially developed Bonesetter for his own residents. Today, the app is in use by tens of thousands of surgeons in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America, and it played an important role in the orthopedic surgeon Jason A. Lowe’s “Virtual Fracture Templating Support Basic Principles Course Curriculum” project that won the 2024 AO Trauma Innovation in Education Award .

Advancing education

Vaidya explained that advancing the impact of education is at the heart of both the Bonesetter app and Lowe’s project. Specifically designed to support orthopedic surgeons in surgical planning and execution, the app allows users to import and size digital images, draw out fracture fragments, and move those fragments to reduced positions. From the user’s iPad, tablet, computer or mobile phone, implants can be sized and placed precisely to X-rays and digital images from picture archiving and communications systems (PACS), and the app takes the headache out of producing processes stepwise and determining which—and what size—tools are needed for a surgery. Additionally, by allowing residents to plan and review a surgery step by step before performing it, Bonesetter aids in their training.

“Bonesetter in the beginning was just for my residents. My hospital didn’t have x-rays anymore and we couldn’t afford a digital app—USD 8,000 per year for a license for our surgeons to use it,” Vaidya said, noting that his son suggested developing a proprietary app because his Halo video game cost only USD 25 and “that had a lot more programming.” Andrew Knapp, a friend and computer programmer, transformed this idea into the app over the last seven years. He and Vaidya talk every week.

“Today, Bonesetter is used all over the world. We started with the AO with [current AO Trauma North America Board Chairperson] Brett Crist using Bonesetter in the AO Trauma Advanced Principles course and [AO Trauma Education Commission Past Chairperson] Michael Sirkin using it in the AO Trauma deformity course—and then Jason Lowe used for it for his project,” said Vaidya, who first encountered the AO in 1993 as a resident training under Max Aebi—who played an important role in establishing AO Spine—at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, then by a Fellowship with the AO Faculty at the University of British Columbia in Trauma.

Driven by need—and user feedback

Driven by a need, Bonesetter continues to evolve based on users’ needs and feedback, Vaidya said.

“A lot of people—like Mike Sirkin and Brett Crist—have helped us adapt the program and move it forwarded based on their needs. With people telling us what they need, we have been able to make the program more useful to them,” he said. Jason Lowe has been the perfect “Carpenter who developed this tool for the Basic Course”. Ken Langford (of AONA) was invaluable in making the videos, editing and organizing the teaching modules for all the courses.

That drive to improve surgeon education dovetails perfectly with the AO mission of promoting excellence in patient care and outcomes in trauma and musculoskeletal disorders. The AO today is a network of over half a million health-care professionals in more than 160 countries—and Vaidya is happy to be part of that community, collaborating to advance patient care through education, research, development, and innovation.

“I always ask, ‘So, what is the AO? Is it an idea? Or is it a professional organization?’ It’s people who get together and give their time to teach, research, and develop solutions,” said Vaidya. “At its beginning, the AO was about fracture care and today it’s also about total joint replacement, craniomaxillofacial surgery, surgical treatment of sports injuries and veterinary medicine. But every single faculty member spends their time teaching, organizing courses—volunteering their time and mentoring.” I still spend time weekly discussing cases and ideas with one of the legends of AO, Dr. Bob Teitge who I have been fortunate to have in my career.

You might also be interested in:

AO community

Learn more about the AO’s global community.

AO services and resources

Find out more about our services and resources.

Curriculum development

Reading about the AO’s curriculum development process.