Exoskeletons for Doctors: Have You Experienced the “Paexo Moment?”
As a surgeon, you have probably experienced the situation in the operating room where you have positioned your arms in a raised, strenuous, almost awkward position to treat a particular part of the patient. In fact, a surgeon’s work conditions are frequently harsher than those of an industrial worker. Examples include cumbersome surgical handling devices, stressful and awkward postures, and prolonged standing, all in the benevolent commitment to the patient outcome.
Several studies report surgeons are at risk for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s.) This study in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics found that 90% of surgeons report MSD primarily in the back and neck; however, problems in the shoulder and other extremities are not uncommon.
It’s natural that your body tires as you conduct complex surgical maneuvers with meticulous precision. Whether you’re a neurosurgeon, a plastic surgeon, or another type of doctor who must maintain a single position for long periods, the problem is the same.
Innovation in surgical ergonomics already exists yet is not widely adopted. For example, how do you find ergonomic supports for your arms and back?
An Exoskeleton Can Help Relieve Your Muscles
Advances in bionic technology can help tremendously as Prof. Dr. med. Veit Rohde, a neurosurgeon at Universitätsmedizin Göttingen, experienced for himself.
“Up to now, I thought that an exoskeleton is a help for patients with a motor handicap.” Prof. Dr. med. Veit Rohde
The Paexo Shoulder is a lightweight, wearable device designed for people who spend long periods of work time with their arms near or above shoulder level. It reduces fatigue, tremor, and long-term musculoskeletal disorders that many surgeons experience after years in the field.
At only 1.9 kg, you’ll hardly know it’s there. In addition, it’s easy to adjust to all body types. Imagine conducting surgery and experiencing your arms floating in the air effortlessly rather than the fatigue you may often feel.”
Prof. Rohde describes his long search for a solution before discovering the Paexo Shoulder. “At the beginning, I searched for other solutions such as hand-rests mounted to the operating table.”
He said the problem with hand-rests could result in limitations, though. So his search continued. Prof. Dr. med. Veit Rohde wanted a tool that would eliminate the pull of gravity on his arms during long surgeries.
Prof. Dr. med. Veit Rohde says, “My expectation is that the use of Paexo during delicate neurosurgical operations in the sitting position helps me to reduce the fatigue in the arm and hand muscle and allow a constant high surgical precision even in longer surgeries.”
He said he hopes future exoskeletons will relieve back stress due to surgery.
“For the future, I also can imagine exoskeletons helping to relieve the stress on the back during operations. The surgeon stands and exoskeletons facilitate surgical steps needed for high muscle strength, as often found in the spine and orthopedic surgery.”
He says the positions a surgeon has to hold for long periods are exhausting and harmful to the health over years of repetition. The first experiences with Paexo are promising though future studies are necessary to provide conclusive evidence that Paexo reduces muscle strain.
Exoskeletons for Doctors are a New Concept
If you’re not familiar with the idea of exoskeletons as a surgical aid, it’s because they’re new. You wouldn’t have found them readily available just five years ago.
Ottobock has made biomechanical and orthopedic products for over 100 years. Since 2012, its Paexo product division has focused on helping people with physically demanding work. Our exoskeletons provide a more ergonomic workplace. So surgeons, for example, can continue their challenging surgical work with less stress and fatigue. Our exoskeletons are also the subject of several studies and analyses to scientifically prove their effectiveness in reducing MSDs.
You can probably identify with these work situations if you’re a surgeon. You can probably also feel that an assistive device that relieves shoulder fatigue, tremors, and pain would be helpful. Yet, you don’t want a device that interferes with other activities. If so, Paexo Shoulder could be that device for you.
It’s lightweight. It’s easy to put on and adjusts to multiple body types. Some call it the “Paexo Moment” when the doctor tries it out and has an immediate “aha – that’s how it works” moment.
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