Second week of the AO Davos Courses 2023 delivers offerings across all clinical specialties

Week two of the AO Davos Courses 2023 opened last night, December 10, 2023, with AO President Tim Pohlemann receiving a full house of participants, faculty, and industrial partners at the Davos Congress Centre.

For its 2023 edition, the AO's annual flagship educational event has brought together 947 participants from 60 countries. In the second week of the AO Davos Courses, the AO is hosting ten sold-out and nearly sold-out courses for AO Trauma, AO Spine, AO CMF, AO VET, AO Recon, and AO Sports.

Pohlemann then took the audience on a trip down memory lane, reminiscing how he first attended the AO Davos Courses in 1985, when the original founders, including Maurice Müller, were still present and happy to interact with participants. He also shared a few photographs from the 38 years he has spent associated with the AO.

Along with sharing the genesis of his engagement with the AO, Pohlemann walked the audience through the AO’s beginnings and subsequent international impact, detailing how in 1958, 13 surgeons banded together in Switzerland as the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (Association for the Study of Internal Fixation and Fractures, or AO) to revolutionize the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, championing the AO’s principles of fracture management: fracture realignment, fracture fixation, soft-tissue preservation, and early mobilization. Pohlemann described how the basis of the AO’s success was through identifying a clinical problem, followed by a technical solution, and delivering proof of concept—a model that was then introduced through education and still is today, 65 years later.

Pohlemann emphasized that while it was important for any surgeon to be a member of their respective national organizations, the AO offers something different altogether—a close network of colleagues from around the world that develop into lifelong relationships, akin to family.

Martin Stoddart, Program Leader Regenerative Orthopedics at AO Research Institute Davos (ARI), then took the stage to offer an insight into the latest developments at ARI, including news from its biopatterning project, which is currently in the process of getting FDA approval for its FastSkin graft, and the first two operations performed implanting the fracture monitor.

Back on stage, Pohlemann gave credit to the AO’s other two institutes, the AO Innovation Translation Center (AO ITC) and the AO Education Institute (AO EI). He invited the audience to stop by the SHARD, RIMASYS' mobile operating theater that allows participants to observe a range of live surgeries. Numerous SHARD sessions are available for participants to view this year either in-person or via AO TV’s video-on-demand platform—some of the many diverse activities happening at the AO Davos Courses. Pohlemann wholeheartedly encouraged the audience to immerse themselves fully in the AO experience before passing the word to his predecessor, Immediate Past President Florian Gebhard.

Gebhard used the opportunity to speak about the AO’s latest initiative, AO Sports. Since beginning in 2021, AO Sports’ offerings have delivered a strong focus on simulation via its 11 hands-on courses internationally, and over 2,100 participants have learned from 122 faculty, with an average of 95% participant recommendation. He also spoke about AO Access—an AO initiative to encourage diversity, inclusion, and mentorship in the surgical community—and invited participants to sign up for AO Access’ “Surgical Sunrise” session on Tuesday morning. For more information on this event, visit the AO Davos Courses side events page.

Donning a pair of VR goggles, Gebhard emphasized his vision of the digital future of surgical education, demonstrating a visualization of a spine surgery, one of many offerings available in cooperation with the AO’s industrial partner, Brainlab.

Pohlemann returned to the stage to conclude the opening ceremony, giving thanks to the AO’s industrial partners and supporters, exhibitors, and the local community. Despite the many new opportunities of digital education, he again emphasized the importance of the AO spirit and community, encouraging participants to become members of this unique network of surgeons and to join the AO family.

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