March 27, 2013
Just Dance. People love dancing, whether it be for fun, as a workout or professionally as a dancer performing choreographies with great passion in front of an audience. This passion has resulted in a hip surgery for Lady Gaga, the American singer-songwriter known for such hits as Bad Romance, Poker Face, and – appropriately – Just Dance. For fans all over the world, the hip fracture was a synonym for cancelled concerts and missed opportunities to meet their idol. But why did this happen so suddenly? Why did we not hear about her problems earlier?
Having started only a few weeks ago as a Eucomed’s Communications Trainee, I thought it was remarkable that medical devices also have such an impact on the life of “celebrities”. Before joining Eucomed, I associated these technologies with pacemakers and artificial hips, wheelchairs and crutches, to restore the quality of life of ordinary people like you and me. For people outside the industry, it’s easy to forget that medical technology also improves the life of the young, the famous, the fit and the active. And Lady Gaga’s story is one of them.
Since Gaga stepped on the music scene and into the limelight, she has become famous not only for her songs but also for her outlandish stage outfits. The bleach blonde may have sparked people’s curiosity more than once. I remember for instance the plastic bubble dress she wore during live performances or the controversial raw meat dress covering her body at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. Wearing eccentric costumes has definitely become one of Lady Gaga’s distinctive features as a star.
I never could have imagined that a further distinctive feature to associate her with would be medical technology. More specifically, a little more than two weeks ago, Lady Gaga was diagnosed with synovitis (a joint membrane inflammation) and a labral tear (an injury whereby the cartilage surrounding the socket of ball-and-socket-joints is damaged). At first, I thought the plateau shoe wearer had suffered a bad fall on stage, but I was wrong. So why would a 26-year-old, well-trained and hyperactive dancer need surgery so suddenly? The truth is: Gaga had already experienced hip problems for some time but always attempted to hide them. Only when she could not contain her pain any longer did she have to reveal her suffering.
The surgery in question is a pioneering minimally-invasive procedure called “arthroscopy” whereby a tiny camera is inserted into the joint through a small incision. This type of technique prevents the surgeon from having to open the joint entirely and reduces patients’ recovery time. As no hip replacement is needed, the damaged portions of Lady Gaga’s hip have been sewn together in order to repair the tear. And contrary to what many may think, luckily, her injury does not increase the probability of an inevitable hip transplant in the future.
So now I’ve come to realize that these hip problems not only affect the elderly or arise as a result of an accident. They also affect athletes or dancers, especially women, who do a lot of regular exercise. The repetitive movements in the end lead to injuries that may even require surgery; and this is exactly what happened to Lady Gaga.
Over the next few months, Lady Gaga will need strict downtime. She’ll have to learn to get around on crutches and in a wheelchair which is quite an abrupt change. But Gaga plays it down: “I’m alive; I’m living my dream, and this is just a bump in the road.” So for fans who missed her concerts: expect your idol to be back on the road again thanks to your warm support – and to medtech innovations.
Krystel van Hoof