The Joint Kitchen

Michael David Ries, MD
Koehlerbooks (2017)
ISBN 9781633935341
Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (12/17)

“The Joint Kitchen: A Handbook for Orthopaedic Inventors and Fraidy Cats Facing a Knee or Hip Replacement” is part medical text and part self-help guide for future inventors. With this short, 100-page handbook, world-renowned orthopedic surgeon and inventor, Michael David Ries, provides background information on seven individual hip and knee replacement devices he has patented. Dr. Ries reveals how he visualized his creations when performing ordinary tasks such as cutting an orange, frying an egg, turning the lid on a jar or using a corkscrew. He also provides photos and figures that illustrate the anatomical concepts and details of his designs. The author’s final few pages contain valuable information on the process of patenting. 

As stated in his subtitle, “A Handbook for Orthopaedic Inventors and Fraidy Cats Facing a Knee or Hip Replacement,” Ries’ first purpose is to advise others like him. Ries does this well when he details his methods for acquiring inspiration and demonstrates his design process. However, his aim to address only orthopedic inventors is too limited. I think that his approach should be expanded to include other types of developers and innovative thinkers. It was Dr. Ries’ take on the creative process that impressed me the most; his description of how new ideas come during moments when the mind is quiet was enlightening. Like Newton, who had his revelation regarding gravity whilst resting in the shade of a large apple tree, we can all access our best ideas more clearly in times of ease and relaxation.

In addition, the term “fraidy cat” in the book’s subtitle does not get adequately addressed. The phrase implies that reading this handbook will allay a prospective patient’s fear. I will admit that the descriptions furnish me with a greater understanding, but I would not say that they quiet any anxiety I feel toward orthopedic surgery.

While the book’s ending provides a good synopsis of the patent process, I do not understand the author’s juxtaposition of this with his trip to Antarctica. His analogy for the patent process seems overstated when he compares it to penguins protecting themselves from predators. There are a few instances in the book when Ries moves into a concept through a preamble that doesn’t feel related.

“The Joint Kitchen: A Handbook for Orthopaedic Inventors and Fraidy Cats Facing a Knee or Hip Replacement” distinctly illustrates one man’s creative process for developing mechanicals for injured or worn out hips and knees. The most unique element of this book is how Dr. Michael David Ries goes about his process of invention. By demonstrating ways to accomplish “creative thinking through common tasks,” the author is sure to influence other pioneers. I would recommend this book to any natural “da Vinci” type who yearns to see his or her ideas come to fruition. It might also be informative for those wondering about their own body mechanics - especially if that person is considering replacement surgery.

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