Health & Science

SIGN, a local nonprofit, receives patent award

A nonprofit started by a local orthopedic surgeon has received a Patents for Humanity Award from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. SIGN Fracture Care International received the award at a recent ceremony in Washington, D.C., a news release said.

The award is for patented technologies that help people in impoverished areas, the release said.

Tri-Cities orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis G. Zirkle started SIGN Fracture Care in 1999. “His mission was to develop an Intramedullary nail (IM nail) System that surgeons working in hospitals in developing countries, with few resources, could use efficiently with minimal recovery time for patients,” the news release said.

The SIGN IM nail is a stainless steel rod that can be inserted into the tibia, femur or humerus, holding the fractured bone in place to quicken healing, the release said. The SIGN IM nails are manufactured in Richland and given to SIGN-trained surgeons around the world. They help 20,000 patients a year, the release said.

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