Sports Medicine Weekly

LiveActive with Rush

Advancing Joint and Cartilage Restoration Research


Maintaining an active lifestyle well into our senior years is what we all hope to experience; however, each year millions of Americans sustain injuries to their knees, shoulders and other joints. When these injuries impact the soft tissue and cartilage of your joints, the result is the same: pain that makes it difficult or impossible for you to lead an active lifestyle. Though doctors have made strides to help restore ?normal? movement after a cartilage injury, chronic pain, limited mobility, and arthritis are often the outcome despite traditional treatment.

At Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, promising research in alternative treatments and therapies is already revolutionizing orthopedic patient care. Under the leadership of Dr. Brian Cole, the Rush Cartilage Restoration Center has pioneered safer, faster and less expensive ways to reclaim lost mobility and eliminate pain. Such treatments have changed the expectations of both physicians and patients regarding what is possible in the wake of orthopedic injury or debilitating disease.

LiveActive Mission Statement

The mission of the LiveActive Fund for Orthopedic Research and Education is to focus on joint restoration research and education, furthering the multidisciplinary approach to the management of joint pain and cartilage disease at Rush University Medical Center and Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. Excellence in education, development of novel minimally invasive solutions, and promoting function and activity through advanced research is at the core of this initiative.

Implicit in our mission is a commitment to maximizing patient outcomes following orthopedic care through translational research?identifying clinical problems and performing basic science and clinical research with the specific intent to deliver the best possible solutions to patients in a timely fashion.


Cartilage defects acquired through the wear and tear of everyday life ultimately contribute to osteoarthritis (OA)–the most common form of arthritis and a significant source of disability and impaired quality of life. With recent generations of active and athletic individuals, the number of people with OA is substantial, and often affects younger adults for whom joint replacement is not a desirable treatment option.

Similar problems exist in the shoulder including the challenges of improving outcomes following rotator cuff repair and shoulder instability. These, and other areas including regenerative medicine initiatives described below, are the primary focus of the foundation at Rush. To donate, please click the ‘Make a Donation’ Button to the right>>> Rush University Medical Center’s bone and joint program has a distinguished history of “bench-to-bedside” or translational research, wherein laboratory discoveries are brought directly to our patients, while clinical findings contribute to further research innovations. A strong collaboration between sports medicine physicians in our department of orthopedic surgery and basic scientists has facilitated major innovations in treating patients with cartilage defects thus far.

The Rush team’s focus is now on developing ways of preventing further degradation and delaying the need for surgical intervention in patients with cartilage defects. Investing in the laboratory and clinic will help expand the current array of minimally invasive repair options.

The Importance of Additional Funding

Currently, in Rush’s Cartilage Restoration Center, a common procedure is for physicians to surgically insert a plug of cadaver cartilage and bone into the joint of a patient with damaged cartilage with the hope that it heals and incorporates to the surrounding bone. The fact that the procedure is somewhat invasive and the implant is clinically effective in only 75 to 85 percent of patients has prompted researchers, and physicians, to work towards developing more effective ways to treat such injuries.

Dr. Brian Cole is also at the forefront of autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI), a procedure where cartilage is taken from a non-load-bearing part of the patient’s own body and is stimulated to grow new cartilage cells in a laboratory. In a second surgery, the patient’s own cartilage is inserted into the injured area. This procedure is not always successful either, and can only be used in patients whose cartilage damage is minimal. The most common complication is the failure of implanted cells to integrate and possibly, the need for additional surgery to remove scar tissue in the joint.

Your donations to the LiveActive Fund will help generate the much-needed funding to address these problems and to advance orthopedic research, education and create awareness for alternative treatments, therapies and training to allow people to resume an active lifestyle. To date, fundraising has largely been used to investigate improvements and alternatives to existing technologies. Several projects are currently slated that are in dire need of additional funding to facilitate their completion.


The physicians featured are on the faculty of Rush University Medical Center. They are also in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not employees or agents of Rush University Medical Center.

Link sources: