The Smart Magazine About Medical Technology Innovations

#36 - Ergonomics for Caregivers

Ergonomics for Caregivers: Lightening the Load

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Arjo Indigo product (Courtesy of Arjo)

The introduction of cutting-edge ergonomic equipment into the health care workplace can benefit caregivers by reducing the fatigue and physical strain—a major public health issue.


Today health care organizations are tasked with providing high quality patient care while simultaneously improving efficiency, accuracy and profitability. The combined impact of reduced manpower as well as space and budget constraints, technological developments and new regulations means caregivers often face situations where they are at risk of physical injury.

In a recent survey of 250 full-time nurses by Minnesota-based ergonomic product manufacturer Ergotron, 60 percent were concerned that their job was having a negative impact on their personal health. More than three-quarters reported experiencing physical discomfort in the workplace, while 12 percent reported being injured on the job over the previous year.

Christian Stentoft, Executive Vice President of Corporate Development at Swedish medical technology company Arjosaid:

Across the world fewer medical personnel are now handling more patients over shorter timeframes. In terms of patient handling, nurses are estimated to manually lift more than carpenters on a daily basis, meaning this profession has one of the highest risk ratings for back injuries.

Taking the Strain

The introduction of cutting-edge ergonomic equipment into the health care workplace can not only boost productivity but also reduce the fatigue, exertion and musculoskeletal disorders that so frequently impair those providing care. Arjo develops and sells a range of innovative patient handling solutions to reduce the physical strain on health care professionals.

Seba (Courtesy of Arjo)

The company’s Seba product, for example, is a transfer aid which allows patients to be moved from a supine to a seated position at the edge of the bed (and back again) in one simple motion. It significantly reduces the load on the caregiver and keeps the patient’s spine straight throughout the lift.

This year has seen Arjo launch two new products—IndiGo and the Arjo Locate equipment tracking solution. The former is a fifth wheel that can be mounted underneath medical beds. By means of intelligent sensoring it amplifies the push/pull efforts of the caregiver and thereby eases manoeuvring. Arjo Locate is a Bluetooth-based solution that can help caregivers locate lifting equipment through a handheld device such as an iPad. After a period of time an algorithm suggests more appropriate storage locations for such equipment to minimize the time spent by caregivers retrieving it.

Nurses are not the only health care professionals in need of advanced ergonomic equipment. Dentsply Sirona, an American dental equipment maker, recently launched the award-winning Intego Ambidextrous. Boasting an intelligent swivel mechanism, this dental treatment center can be used by both left and right-handed practitioners.

Ambidextrous (Courtesy of Dentsply Sirona)

Adjusting the setup of the Intego Ambidextrous is a simple and smooth operation,  with features such as the backrest, operating light, monitor and dentist element all easily repositioned in a matter of seconds. The highly adjustable design means the center can be configured to meet the user’s requirements exactly. Ian Ellis, Marketing Director of Dentsply Sirona UK & Ireland, explained:

Using instruments and tools for long periods of time can lead to repetitive strain injury. The Ambidextrous is a leading example of how ergonomic equipment can significantly reduce everyday stress for dental professionals.

Best of the Rest

German company Provita Medical also produces ergonomic health care equipment. Its BRANCA range of ergonomic treatment units, which were developed in collaboration with health care professionals, significantly reduces the load on the caregiver’s spinal column with a gas spring, height-adjustable saddle seat and other height adjustable features.

Swiss company Samarit has developed a “Patient Turning System” (or PTS) which allows patients to be moved from the supine to the prone position in operating rooms with reduced physical strain on operating staff.  And the Power-PRO XT Cot from Michigan-headquartered Stryker EMS helps paramedics asily lift casualties into and out of ambulances with its battery-powered hydraulic system and pneumatically assisted backrest.

About the Author

Daniel Allen is a writer and a photographer. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including CNN, BBC, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, National Geographic Traveller, Discovery Channel.

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