November 29, 2010

New Bandage Splint Designed To Make Life Easier For Hip Surgery Patients

Over a short period of time, the Materials Research Division at Risø DTU, in collaboration with the Danish surgical bandage maker Sahva, has developed the principles for a new bandage splint for hip surgery patients. The new splint can reduce the need for large external support structures to fixate the hip following hip surgery. The secret behind the fast development is collaboration between a research scientist, an enterprise and a full-time student using this case for her bachelor project.

They are too large and impractical and do not always work as intended; This is common knowledge to physicians as well as physiotherapists at Holbæk hospital in Western Zealand who, via an enquiry to the Zealand Knowledge Forum in Næstved, contacted research scientists at Risø DTU, who were immediately hooked on the idea of developing an improved model.

Using funding from the Zealand Growth Forum earmarked for establishing meetings for generating ideas, a workshop was set up. The workshop participants involved health service, research and investor professionals as well as an enterprise and a patient. The purpose was to brainstorm together and arrive at product optimisation. Based on the ideas generated in the workshop, the Materials Research Division at Risø DTU established a project in collaboration with the company Sahva which, among other things, produces bandages, to find a solution to the problem.

"This is a textbook example of the results which this type of collaboration can generate. We all have different stakes in this: The hospital wants better bandages, the research scientists are able to test their materials and ideas, and the private enterprise eyes an opportunity to launch a new product in the market. Besides, things move faster when more people share the tasks," says business developer Christina Jespersen of Risø DTU.

A student in charge

Following the workshop, a student was assigned to the project as part of her training. This helped accelerate the project and enabled quick development of a prototype:

"We had the good fortune that the Materials Research Division at Risø happened to have a student who was about to start her bachelor project. In collaboration with the research scientists, she has utilised the materials and mechanics knowledge required and has tested her ideas in consultation with physiotherapists and surgical bandage makers. Working together with the Sahva experts, she has developed a prototype which is currently being tested by the hospitals involved, already with promising results," says Christina Jespersen from Risø DTU.

OK to run a risk

Medical aids producer Sahva, also an active participant in the design phase, is happy to get something tangible out of this collaboration:

"This is an exciting and ambitious project in an area with a great need. The existing hip splints are large and bulky, keeping the user in a patient role where the splint is a constant reminder of the ailment. We were therefore willing to sacrifice some working hours from the outset, even though this is a development project with great inherent risks," says Morten Kristensen, Clinics Manager at Sahva.


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