TITLE: Spine-health.com

ACCESS: http://www.spine-health.com/

The stated mission of Spine-health.com is to educate users about spine anatomy, disorders, and treatment in a comprehensive, impartial manner. The site is independently managed by a group of spine specialist and does not recommend or endorse any products. The homepage is divided into five categories: "Find a Doctor," "Spine Topics," "Research," "Back Talk," and "Marketplace." "Find a Doctor" is a searchable directory of Web pages produced by board certified spine specialists. The specialists listed pay a subscription fee to be included so while the directory is useful, it is not comprehensive.

"Spine Topics" provides tutorials on the causes and treatment of back and neck pain. These are written specifically for Spine-health.com and are peer reviewed by the Spine-health.com Medical Advisory Board. The advisory board is comprised of professionals in the fields of neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, psychology, chiropractic, sports medicine, physiatry, radiology, neuroradiology, and physical therapy.

Spine-health.com claims that all content meets the quality criteria of the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Authors' credentials and contact information is provided. Useful black and white and color line drawings, photographs, CT scans, and MRI images supplement the texts. "Research" offers articles exploring state-of-the-art treatment options. Items in this section undergo the same peer review process as the tutorials. "Back Talk" contains an annotated list of links, a sign up form to subscribe to the Spine-health.com newsletter, and an open back and neck pain message board. "Marketplace" is a product ads section. From the homepage users can also view a series of sophisticated, interactive animation modules illustrating some of the most common spinal disorders and treatments.

Because alternate treatments are outlined (such as chiropractic vs. surgical), Spine-health.com is a useful, unbiased introductory reference for the treatment of common spinal disorders and is appropriate for students new to medicine. Although the text is geared to a novice audience, the graphics are useful to all levels of expertise in demonstrating spinal anatomy and treatment techniques not easily explainable with narrative. The animation modules alone make this site a valuable tool for those teaching in the health care professions. Spine-health.com also serves as an excellent example of a high caliber patient information site for students who will one day be educating patients.

Susan M. Frey
DePuy Orthopaedics

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