Knee trouble is common these days — it seems you're always hearing about someone who had surgery because of an injury or arthritis.

When you hear about those surgeries, perhaps you think of an orthopedic surgeon with a scalpel in his hand as he repairs the knee.

Think again.

The newest worker at Lawrence General Hospital helping out with knee and joint surgeries isn't a doctor at all. It's a robot, as more than 100 high school students from Andover and the rest of the Merrimack Valley found out recently.

The hospital brought the robot experience to students as part of Lawrence General's Hip and Knee Pain Education Day. It was held last week at Andover Country Club.


Students got to see robotics in action as the hospital gave live demonstrations of its new state-of-the-art surgical robot. Students learned how the technology helps surgeons achieve more precise results and deliver more successful patient outcomes after joint surgery.

"As we were planning the joint pain education sessions for people experiencing hip and knee pain, we realized we had an incredible opportunity to share real-world robotics demonstrations with students in the Merrimack Valley region," said Dr. Steven Andriola, an orthopedic surgeon who uses the surgical robot for partial and total knee replacements at Lawrence General Hospital.

Students had the chance to ask questions and network with health care professionals, and explore health care careers and volunteer opportunities.

Members of the Lawrence General team team said they know the importance of supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in the region to encourage the next generation of health care providers.

"When we mentioned the idea to the surgeons and health care professionals, they were very excited to share their expertise and career advice with local students," said Dawn Bollhardt, Lawrence General program manager for spinal issues and orthopedics.

In addition to the robotics demonstration and networking, students were able to learn about college health science programs from representatives of Merrimack College, Northern Essex Community College and Regis College who attended the event.

Ben French of the Lawrence General Hospital marketing team said about 120 students from across Merrimack Valley attended. Participating schools included Andover High, Abbott Academy at Lawrence High School, and Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School in Lawrence.



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