The future is digital: AO Davos Courses 2022, week one

AO President Florian Gebhard welcoming the crowd to the AO Davos Courses 2022 at the Davos Congress Centre

The AO Davos Courses 2022 opened last night, December 4, 2022, with a rousing welcome from AO President Florian Gebhard, who received a crowd of participants, faculty, industrial partners, and special guests at the Davos Congress Centre. Gebhard walked on stage with a pair of virtual-reality goggles and segued into his presentation about the digital future of surgery with cutting-edge tools and education.

This year, the AO's annual flagship educational event offers 21 courses by AO Trauma, AO Spine, AO CMF, AO VET, AO Recon, and AO Sports from December 4 to 16, 2022, bringing together faculty and participants from more than 70 countries. In the first week, the AO is hosting 508 participants and 121 faculty for eight sold-out and nearly sold-out courses. 

Although Gebhard's opening remarks underscored the promise of immersive virtual reality in surgical training and operating theaters—as seen at the AO regional courses in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this past year—following two years of pandemic stops and starts, the appreciation for congregating again in person for a full round of AO Davos Courses was palpable. Participants were encouraged to make the most out of their AO Davos Courses experience with digital offerings that include the myAO app, the fastest-growing digital network of trauma and orthopedic surgeons, and AO TV, a series of on-site interviews with special guests that cover breaking news and emerging topics from across the AO's international community.

Gebhard introduced 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 streaming via AO TV—one of the many diverse side events happening at this year's AO Davos Courses. Introducing the SHARD provided a moment for Gebhard to discuss the development of the AO's collaboration with RIMASYS, a technology-driven health-tech start-up based in Cologne, Germany, before speaking about the AO Innovation Technology Center's funding and mentorship opportunities for innovators.  Further updates from across the AO were presented, including the continued development of the AO Sports initiative over the past year and AO Milestones, AO Trauma’s competency-based training and assessment program to certify the proficiency of trauma surgeons.

AO Research Institute Davos (ARI) Director Geoff Richards took the stage, presenting the AO's approach to multidisciplinary translational research and development (R&D) that aims to solve clinical problems. AO surgeons identify clinical problems that lead to research, development, and translation that, in turn, advance surgical education concepts and patient outcomes. Richards presented ARI's recent progress with the first in-human application of the Biphasic Plate Distal Femur version, AO Fracture Monitor, and OSapp, an interactive teaching tool demonstrating biomechanical principles of fracture fixation and bone healing. At the end of his presentation, Richards highlighted the AO Research seminar taking place later in the week on bone regeneration.

AO Past President Robert McGuire spoke about AO Access—an AO initiative to encourage diversity, inclusion, and mentorship in the surgical community—and a newly launched mentorship program. This week, AO Access will present a panel titled "Mentorship in the mirror; moments that matter" and a talk titled "Myths and realities—AO Access/Women of Orthopedics (WOO) by DPS: Conversations creating change." For more information, visit the AO Davos Courses side events page.

Gebhard returned to the stage to conclude the opening ceremony, giving thanks to the many supporters, exhibitors, and the local community. The future of surgery may be digital, but there is no replacement for coming together in person for the AO's live training, networking, and experiencing the latest innovations in orthopedics—a tradition begun in 1960 with the first AO Davos Course and one that we will carry on for many years to come.

*Disclaimer: The device pictured is strictly for demonstration and education purposes and is not yet CE marked and may not be available for commercialization in your country.