The MedStar Health Musculoskeletal Research and Innovation Center one of the First Research Labs in the Country to Use KUKA QUANTEC Robotic Arm

The state-of-the-art technology allows MedStar Health investigators to mimic natural joint kinematics to better understand joint injuries and test resilience of surgical treatments.

MedStar Health has acquired a state-of-the-art KUKA KR QUANTEC robotic arm to support cutting-edge research on joint movement. Most commonly used in the automotive industry, the KUKA device will enable MedStar Health researchers to more precisely test orthopedic implants and other novel therapies to treat joint injuries.


The use of robots in healthcare has expanded significantly over the past few years, primarily with robotic-assisted surgery. However, MedStar Health is one of a handful of healthcare systems to use the KUKA robotic arm in pursuit of biomechanical research. This sophisticated technology offers investigators an easier path to replicate how various parts of the body move and react to outside forces.

In orthopedic research, scientists typically rely on custom-built machines to simulate joint movement that require lengthy setup time between experiments. The KUKA device instead can be quickly programmed to replicate a particular motion time and time again.

"This technology allows us to apply controlled multidirectional motions in flexion/extension, lateral bending, and axial rotations to musculoskeletal structures," said Pooyan Abbasi, MSc, director of the Medical Research Laboratory and Ph.D. candidate in Robotics. "So, with KUKA, we can more easily mimic natural joint kinematics to better understand the impact of trauma on joints and ligaments, and the resilience or effectiveness of certain surgical procedures to treat injury and prevent future damage. We will also be able to test orthopedic implants and novel therapies in an environment that is highly reproducible and much closer to what actually happens in the real world."

The device was acquired as part of a multimillion-dollar renovation of the Musculoskeletal Research and Innovation Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, made possible through the leadership of Henry Boucher, MD, chair of orthopedics at the hospital, and the support of our philanthropic partners. Fully equipped with the latest technological advancements in robotics and virtual laboratory training, the new facility is designed to serve as a regional resource center for researchers and clinicians within MedStar Health as well as a site for collaboration between private industry and academic centers on a local, national, and international level. Construction is anticipated to be complete fall of 2023.

"The new MedStar Health Musculoskeletal Research and Innovation Center aims to focus on the development and communication of new ideas and techniques in the realm of research, patient safety, performance improvement, and bench-to-bedside discovery with the goal of improving outcomes for our patients," explains Bryan Cunningham, PhD, director of Scientific Orthopedic Research. "We are excited how new technology like the KUKA device will open up investigative avenues for our researchers, offer innovative training for our medical students, surgeons in training, and attending clinicians, and attract new and exciting opportunities from study sponsors."

About MedStar Health

At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region's largest home health agency, we're committed to providing high-quality health care that's also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It's how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

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